Riding Milford, PA

This blog came to be when I realized there was simply not enough information available about cycling in the Milford, Pennsylvania area. With many miles of pavement, gravel roads, and lots of trails, Milford is an ideal cycling spot and a great place for the outdoor enthusiast.

Milford is a historic town that sits in the Delaware Valley in Pike County, along the Delaware River, bordering both New York and New Jersey. Milford has lots of cafes, restaurants, and quaint shops that make it a great place to start or finish a ride.

Stay tuned for lots of articles and photos on gravel rides, road rides, and even some mountain bike rides, all in the Milford area!

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Getting On

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been dealing with a curve ball that life from time to time can throw at you.

That being said, I did spend some time off the bike. This has been time spent with family and friends and it’s also been time spent overthinking things. I could go into this in greater detail, but this is a cycling blog and I miss taking long adventurous rides and capturing cool pics of bikes in nature.

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 This past week, I threw caution to the wind and hopped on my gravel rig for a spin through the woods. Pedaling from the house, I figured the Delaware State Forest would do. And, oh, it did nicely. I hit some old haunts and found some new corners of this incredible natural wonderland.

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The next day, I did a relaxing paddle around the local pond. Felt good to be out in the sun. The paddleboard is great cross training for cycling. Give it a try, your core will thank you!

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I took a couple days off and yesterday, I decided a road  ride was in order.  I left Milford at 4:30pm and flew down Rt. 209 to Mountain Ave. in Matamoras. Crossing the Delaware (George Washington, I’m not), I cruised through the West End neighborhood of Port Jervis and up to Rt. 97.  I wanted to do go uphill a bit, so I climbed up Skyline Drive to Point Peter. I’m not sure what I like more, the climb or the furious descent. 

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Back on Rt. 97, I navigated Port Jervis and passed into Montague, NJ, making a right on Clove Road. Passing some cool farms, I hammered the roller coaster like pavement, all the way to the Milford Bridge.

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After riding back to Milford, I wanted to climb some more, so I hit the other Skyline Drive. From Old Milford Road, this alpine like skyway, puts you up above the trees for a beautiful view of the entire valley. It’s good to be back!!

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around my head while riding), today – Train – Drops of Jupiter

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The S24O

June is what I like to call the start of adventure season! The temperatures really start to warm up and being as far from civilization as your circumstances will allow, makes you feel invigorated when you get back to the daily grind. With the threat of thunderstorms, it was not looking good for a Friday night bikepacking adventure. But, once the bike is packed, you go and hope for the best.

Steve and Rob G. joined me for the overnight excursion through the Delaware State Forest. Fortunately, the storms held out and after a few hours of humidity, the tempature dropped into the 60’s, making for a really comfortable evening.

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We started out at the Rt. 739 parking area for Five Mile Meadow Road. Rob’s bike was a sight. Loaded with every item you could imagine. He certainly carried what Steve and I forgot. We climbed for a couple of miles and decided to turn right on Standing Stone Trail. Standing Stone gives you a little respite after the climbing endured by Rob on his 75lb plus bike.

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After 3 miles Of a slight descent, we turned left on Silver Lake Road for a 1.5 mile climb then right onto the Burnt Mills Trail System for a few miles. We veered over to Flat Ridge Road for 3 miles, then jumped back on Burnt Mills to connect up to the northwestern side of the forest. The double track trail is made up of a loose gravel surface with sections of 3 to 4 inch rip rap. The first half is downhill to the wooden bridge, then up hill to the parking lot on Rt. 402.

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The paved descent, brought us to Pine Flats Road, a pot holed, gravel roller coaster, that drops you sharply to a beautiful creek.

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Steve wasted no time removing shoes and socks and hopped into the water. From there, we pedaled a few easy miles to our reserved camp site. The Forest Service simply requires a phone call to the local forestry office to reserve one of 39 camp sites spread throughout the forest.

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After setting up camp, we opened a few well deserved beers and made dinner. Bikes, beer, fire and food, only the essentials. The Forest Service provides pic nic tables and fire rings at each site making it an easy destination.

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The crackling of a camp fire, taste of dehydrated food, smell of tent material and symphony of crickets, let you really get the outdoor experience. This may sound a bit off, but if you’ve gotten out there, you know what I mean.

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We slept in before stoking the fire, making coffee and cooking breakfast. I chose a Bannana, Raisin, Oats and Quinoa cereal. Rob actually made pancakes for him and Steve. So, we were well fed before getting back in the saddle.

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We decided to take a slightly shorter route back, eliminating the Burnt Mills Trails, taking out a little bit of the rough stuff. The trip back to cars, gave me time to think: what is a S24O. Well a Sub 24 hour overnighter is the best way you can get into bikepacking or the outdoors, with little time commitment. It’s a great way to shake out those bugs if your planning a longer trip or simply to try out new gear.  Here’s a few more pics:

 

S24O Re-Scheduled

As with the meeting, the S24O Bikepacking trip has been re-scheduled for Friday, June 28th due to the extreme weather conditions. If you wish to join in, call Action Bikes and Outdoor to allow us to get a head count.

Get out and get a rain ride in, have coffee in the woods or just do something outside!

The Commute

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to ride to work on a regular basis. Besides forcing myself to pile up the miles, I would reduce my carbon footprint, save wear and tear on the car, increase my fitness and create awesome material for the blog.

Coincidentally, today is National a Bike to Work Day. Since mid April, I’ve either pedaled to work or home from work, 3 days a week. A lot of planning goes in to what would seem to be a mindless task.

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Leaving a good supply of clothes and food at the shop is paramount. Keeping riding gear and a bike on hand leaves no excuses. Charging tail light and head light keeps me visible and illuminates the way. Riding home (leaving my car at work) ensures that I ride back in the morning.

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Riding home requires a bit more energy as the climb out of the Delaware Valley is about 3,000 feet, with most of it coming immediately as you leave Milford on Rt. 6. A Pennsylvania state bicycle route, Rt. 6 has a six foot shoulder and extra wide driving lanes, so sharing the road with cars is easy. Rt. 434 is a bit hilly as well. Rt. 739 offers a flatter stretch, perfect for cooling down the legs as I make my approach homeward.

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Riding from home to work is obviously a little faster. I can either take the reverse route (about 2,100 feet of climbing) or go the other way on Rt. 739 towards Dingmans and take Milford Road or Rt. 209 into town, resulting in a lot less uphill pedaling and fewer miles. I’m going to try to add another day next month and hopefully do a two week stint, where I commute solely by bike. Maybe no internet either. We’ll see….

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Babys – Isn’t it Time

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Tri-State Rollers

Once in a while, you just get out the door and ride. Saturday was shaping up to be the warmest day of the year. That said, Jeremiah and I made plans to do an early road ride.

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We left from Action Bikes and Outdoor. It’s rare to go with short sleeves in April, but hey, if Mother Nature wants to throw a 75 degree day our way, we’ll take it! Warming up with an easy ride through town, we hopped across the Milford Bridge into New Jersey and climbed Deckertown Turnpike to Clove Road.  As I’ve explained in previous posts, Clove Road, although void of any shoulder, is a fast, roller coaster ride all the way to Montague. We navigated through traffic and slipped into Port Jervis, NY and made a right on Neversink Drive for a gradual climb up to Rt. 209.

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This section of Rt. 209 put us through Deer Park and Huegenot, NY, connecting us back to Port Jervis. We pedaled around the small city to Rt. 97, climbed the initial hill and descended all the way to Sparrowbush. From here, we used the West End neighborhood, riding along the Delaware River over to the Mid Delaware Bridge and crossed into Matamoras, PA.

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Not wanting to deal with traffic, we hugged the other side of the river and made a left on Mountain Avenue for a quiet ride around Matamoras and into Westfall Township. Rt. 209/6, with it’s wide shoulder, provides and busy but fast commute back to Milford. It’s always nice to get a quick ride in. Although I love pedaling slow and taking plenty of photos, every now and then, changing the pace spices things up a bit.

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“A little friend along the route”

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Knack – My Sharona

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The Thaw

It’s been a little over a month since my last post. It seems a bit longer. Maybe it’s just that this winter has dragged on. You often hear of people who suffer from the winter doldrums. While I understand, I’ve never experienced it. I do have someone dear to me that can’t bear the thought of winter’s cold days and isolation. Hopefully, that’s in the rear view.

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Thursday and Friday presented us with two 60+ degree days. I certainly took advantage. While I really yearn to get out on gravel roads, almost all of the Delaware State Forest and McDade Trail are still solidly iced over. That left me to put down some miles on the pavement.

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On Thursday, I rode out of Action Bikes and Outdoor, through town and glided over the Milford Bridge to Montague, NJ. I climbed up Rt. 206 to Layton Hainseville Road. From there, I climbed up The backside of Jager Hill and dumped down to Old Mine Road for a quiet cruise through the rural cemeteries and river front farmland. Crossing over Old Dingman Turnpike, my legs screamed as I ventured up the steepest section of road I would hit all day (not that steep, but it’s early in the year). I descended into Peter’s Valley and hung a sharp left on Bevans Road.

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Pedaling through Layton, I veered left back onto Layton Hainseville Road. I took a short break at one of the local farms and headed back across Rt. 206 and onto Cemetary Road. Cemetary turns into New Road about halfway to Deckertown Turnpike. I crossed over and enjoyed a slightly down hill grade mixed with a short climb before hitting Clove Road. Looping back to Rt. 206, I dropped down to the bridge and slipped into town.

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Friday was a little warmer. At least 70 degrees by midday. Not having as big a window to get outside, I dropped down my driveway and out of my community for a totally uncharted ride through Lord’s Valley, Shohola and Greeley. I couldn’t help but noticing a few Robins flying and gathering twigs. A sure sign of spring. Sometimes a completely adventitious ride turns out to brighten your day and enforce the rights of spring.

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding). Today – Three Dog Night – Shambala

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Maiden Voyage

The last few days have been like summer, compared to the week-long sub zero temperatures that according to the weather service, was caused by a hole in the polar vortex, freezing the entire midwest and northeast. The cold and my head cold have kept me off the bike for about a week. I did get out today. Although, I missed the last two 60 degree days, it still felt pretty warm at 35.

I’ve been waiting to get an opportunity the test out my new road bike. Because the frame is used, I won’t do a complete review, but here are a few specs: 2012 Kona Honky Tonk steel frame and fork. I built it up with SRAM Red shifters, SRAM Force derailleurs and crankset. Velo Orange seatpost, stem, handlebar, brakes and headset. I’m using an old set of Bontrager Race wheels for now, I’ll upgrade before summer.

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As you know, I love steel bikes and this one did not disappoint. Anyway, I left Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 11am and pedaled down Rt. 209 to Matamoras and turned left on Mountain Avenue. A short ride along the Delaware River and I eased over the Port Jervis Bridge, ripped through the West End neighborhood and onto Rt. 97. From there, it was a short ride to Skyline Drive.

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Skyline Drive immediately jets upward. The road surface was covered in salt and amazingly still some ice. Switchback after switchback, I pushed on until coming to a sudden stop at the top. A yellow gate, blocking the road to Point Peter was in place to prevent cars from driving on the unplowed roadway.

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A quick descent dropped me back on Rt. 97. After navigating through Port Jervis, NY, I headed into Montague, NJ. and down Clove Road. Except for Skyline, most roads were clear of ice, snow and salt. I veered left onto New Road and out to Layton Hainsville Road. Riding out to Rt. 206, I dropped back down to the Milford Bridge and took a nice slow ride back into town.

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Like all first rides, I noticed a few things that need to be adjusted or tweaked a little. Other than that, I’m excited to put a few thousand miles on this steed this year.

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My cool Road Runner Bags Jammer Bag. This will be reviewed soon.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Ringo Starr – It Don’t Come Easy

 

Stillwater Natural Area

On Tuesday, I had a window to go out and get a few miles in. I really wanted to check out some new trails, just off Flat Ridge Road. Jamie, tipped me off last week and I’ve been eager to check them out.

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The mid-teen tempts jumped to 25 degrees by noon, so I jumped in the car and parked At the end of Five Mile Meadow, just off Silver Lake. I planned on entering at the Flat Ridge Cabin, across from Little Mud Pond, so I climbed up the back end of Five Mile and hopped on Little Mud Pond Trail (another trail I’ve waited to ride). This is an old snow mobile trail with a 2-3” rip rap surface. The climb was moderate, but the descent to Silver Lake was fun.

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I rode across to the Flat Ridge Cabin (one of hundreds of hunting cabins scattered throughout the Delaware State Forest). This is a great place to enter the trails, as this is one of the state owned cabins.

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The narrow singletrack, wraps around for a little over a mile, before intersecting with the yellow trail. This trail, which is mostly singletrack, winds through the thick woods and ends at Coon Swamp Trail.

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I headed down to Big Bear Swamp. On the way, I noticed an animal carcass. It appeared to be a deer. Who says bears are in hibernation. Coming to a narrow stretch of singletrack, I realized that I better head back. The sun was going down soon, and it’s too cold to get caught out this time of year.

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Hidden cabin off Little Mud Pond Trail

What I did notice is that there are a few more trails off Coon Swamp that I will need to investigate. Can’t wait, this seems to be a nice area of the forest. Spinning around, I headed out to Flat Ridge, veered onto Silver Lake and took the Little Mud Pond Trail back to Five Mile.

 

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) – today -Men at Work – Be Good Johnny

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Bontrager OMW Jacket: Reviewed

The last few winters, I’ve been entrenched in a never-ending quest for the perfect winter jacket.  Let me explain. I own a few winter riding jackets. All keep me warm or dry in a number of conditions. Yet, I still feel, each time out on a winter ride, I’m missing something. It could be 30 degrees and raining or 20 and snowing. I have jackets that are warm but not waterproof, winter shells that are windproof, but not very insulated and extremely warm jackets that just do not provide enough ventilation.

As I’ve said in the past, I don’t work for any of the companies I review.  I do not get paid to review a product. I purchase each product for my personal use, wear it or ride it, enjoy it or not.


This year, I took a chance on Bontrager’s Old Man Winter Jacket. As you know, I tend to overdress when the temps get low. This leads to shedding layers midway down the trail. Fortunately the OMW provides plenty of ventilation, via two large zippered chest vents that are hydration pack compatible. I need to have a jacket that will keep me warm in a multitude of conditions. But the ability to fully ventilate, makes this jacket killer!

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 When your out on a ride and the skies open up, rain, snow and sleet tend to fall. Having a hood helps, but having a hood with a Boa Dial that cinches down around your helmet, makes a cold, wet ride seem like a cold, wet ride where you stay warm and dry.

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 Bontrager’s  Profila softshell fabric, powered by 37.5 active particle technology provides what I believe is the warmest softshell on the market. There are warmer jackets, but at this weight, you’d be hard pressed to find something warmer. Storage is provided by two spacious zippered hand pockets and two zippered chest pockets. There are also two internal drop pockets. The semi fitted cut, with double cord adjustment at the waist, keeps water and other liquids from hitting your body.  The radioactive orange color makes this jacket a bright choice for riding through hunting season or any season.

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Bottom Line: Finally, I have a jacket that checks all the boxes. If you want a winter jacket, that’s light, warm, waterproof and well ventilated with a Boa Dial hood, this is definitely the jacket for you! Bontrager calls it a MTB jacket. I call it an anything jacket. Get it, you won’t be sorry!

 

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New Year’s Gravel

I could give you a year in review. I thought about that. I could tell you about some fantastic rides, good times with friends and complain about all the rain. But, 2018 is in the rear view mirror and 2019 is upon us.

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I met up with Eric today to get the year started on a high note. A gravel ride through the Delaware State Forest. We departed the Rt. 739 parking area around noon and immediately tackled the hills on Five Mile Meadow Road. At 43 degrees, the weather finally cooperated. After about 2 miles of climbing, we turned right on Standing Stone Trail.

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A mile in and we had to dismount to jump across the creek crossing. It was a little too deep after yesterday’s monsoon, but we managed. The hard packed gravel that makes up the surface of Standing Stone, drains extremely well. We cruised through the deer management area to the gate at a nice clip. A left on Silver Lake Road put us on some pave until we turned right onto Flat Ridge Road. Mostly dirt, Flat Ridge was mushy for most of its 4 miles.

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It was Eric’s idea

We rode up Bushkill Falls Road and eased into Minisink Lake and onto Whitaker Trail. Up and over the hills and around the switchback, we came to a swath of private property. There were more that a few “no trespassing” signs,  but the newer looking gravel road was too inviting. This private country resort is tucked deep in the woods with a beautiful roadway complete with wooden bridges and a scenic pond. The road loops around the property and ends with a tour through the main house and smaller cabins.

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On Whitaker, we pedaled back to Flat Ridge to push through the mud one more time before screaming down Silver Lake Road and onto Five Mile Meadow. We chose the long way back to toss in a few more hills. My legs did not thank me. They were a little rubbery after maybe indulging a little too much last night. As we capped the last of numerous climbs, we descended back to the parking area, with a really nice ride to start the new year. You get the longer rides in when you can, so this was a plus for January 1st. I hope it’s a sign of things to come for the winter, but I doubt it. Full winter gear and shorter rides are right around the corner.

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Warming up after a chilly ride home

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Dave Davies – Susannah’s Still Alive

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Winter Monstercross

Although winter does not officially begin for another week, Mother Nature gave us a sample of the upcoming season.Today, 25 degrees with a light covering of snow. Perfect for a little adventuring!

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I met up with Eric this morning at the foot of Dingmans Falls for a scramble through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We hopped on the McDade Trail and pedaled past the general store to Hornbeck’s Creek. We took Rt. 209 back to Chestnut Ridge Road.

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It says “Joe” with a heart over door and windows

I’ve never had the pleasure to ride here before. Chestnut Ridge is a one lane, gravel road that jets upward for a little over a mile and a half. It might be one of the quietest, most serene roads in the area.

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About half way up, Eric noticed a small house about 100 feet back in the woods. We headed up the driveway to investigate. The house was a bit neglected, but the property, which looked way down to Hornbeck’s Creek, was quite beautiful.

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We continued the climb and turned right on Wilson Hill Road. A left on Mary Stuart, put us on a quiet country road with a tar and chip surface. We took a chance and dropped down Johnny Bee Road. This old blacktop Road that is grass and rock covered, is an adventure all by it’s self. The road is closed about halfway down.

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Beyond the gate, the road turns to trail. The storms from last March, left Johnny Bee littered with large oak trees spilled alongside and across the Path. After hike a biking over some of the larger ones, we made our way down to Dingmans Falls Road.

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We pedaled up to the Falls, which only opened about a month ago (they too were decimated by trees last March). The newly constructed boardwalk served as a pretty capable path. Surprisingly, the snow helped create some traction. After a few photos, we turned around and rode back to the cars.

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What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Bryan Adams – Cuts Like a Knife

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First Snowfall

Thursday evening blessed us with the first snowfall of the winter season or should I say fall season. With about 5 weeks to go, before winter officially starts, we were blanketed with anywhere from 8-12 inches of wet snow.

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On Friday, I attempted to take the Cannondale Beast of the East into the Delaware State Forest. It did not go well. I spent more time on my feet than on my bike. The snow was extremely sticky, the hard packing type of snow that gets stuck and caught in every part of a bike.

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Entering Five Mile Meadow Road from the deer trail connecting my community with the forest, I pedaled in quad tracks to Ben Bush Road. That was about as fas I could get. The quad tracks went off the road and into the woods. I decided to head back, as forward progress was completely stalled.

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45 North Wolvhammer boot print

Walking back up Five Mile, I realized that snow shoes would have been more appropriate. Anyway, the shadows from the trees, the quiet and deer running through the snow really changed my outlook on the day.  I was able to get a good upper body workout in, shoveling the driveway, when I got home.

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What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Blood Sweat and Tears – Hi-De-Ho

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Cruise de Milford

On Sunday, a group of about 20 riders, met at Action Bikes and Outdoor to embark on the first of many casual rides through this beautiful town.

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At 10am, it was brisk, but sunny. Perfect weather for a town ride. I wanted to plan a route that followed through the many alley ways, from which Milford, looks a bit like a small European village. It really brings you back a few years.

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The crunch of leaves as we rolled through the lower part of town coupled by the incredible fall colors, added to the charm, as we stopped to gaze at the Delaware River from the overlook at the end of High Street. Crossing Harford Street, we slipped back to Water Street and after briefly checking out the water fall, we pedaled past the Waterwheel, across Milford Road and onto James Street. From there we turned into Pine Alley and again on Owega Road.

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Entering Grey Towers. The group gracefully climbed the hill through the beautifully landscaped property to the former home of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. At the top, we stopped for a photo op.

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Cindy told the story of the Pinchot family and the significance of the home and property. We then cruised up through the parking area and started the long descent out of Grey Towers, onto Owega Road and back into town.

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This time, we rode in the upper alley ways heading east and eventually snaking down Cherry Alley alongside the Columns Museum to Broad Street, in front of the bike shop. Inside TC and Jeremiah had hot apple cider waiting for us.

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This is definitely the type of riding I enjoy the most. A group of people casually pedaling, chatting and enjoying the scenery. Can’t wait for the next one! I’m taking suggestions for December’s cruise. Here’s a few more pics.

 

 

 

Tour de Milford

On Sunday, we are hosting a casual, fun, slow, group ride from Action Bikes and Outdoor. Pace will be slow, to take in all that Milford has to offer. We will cruise down the alley ways and see some cool stuff. Any bike will be perfect for this ride. No need to don the spandex. Street clothes will be the order of the day. Hope to see you there!

Cafe Ride

On November 11th at 10 a.m. we are hosting a casual bicycle ride around Milford PA. Our host, “Rob” will be taking all participants through the alleys of Milford, pointing out all points of interest and historic landmarks. Any bike is welcome and casual warm athletic clothing is recommended. You will view beautiful gardens, fall foliage, a waterfall, and Grey Towers during this relaxed bike ride. The total distance will be 9 miles and it will take approximately 2 hours with several stops. When you are finished, enjoy a warm complimentary cider back at Action Bikes and Outdoor. This is a free event!

 

Monstercross in the Watershed

On Wednesday, I had a few hours to kill and thought a gravel ride through the woods, would be a great way to spend part of All Hallows’ Day. To try something different, I opted for a spin through the Port Jervis Watershed.

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Starting from parking lot 2, at the power lines, I headed down Skyline Drive to the campground (an old Girl Scout camp). From there, I sampled a little of Scouts Honor, some flowy singletrack, for a half mile and returned to the campground. I wound my way up to Point Peter, and back around to the gate and down Skyline Path, a beat up old road with more dirt and gravel than what’s left of decades old pavement.

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At the bottom of Skyline Drive, I made a left on Reservior Road and cruised over to the bottom of Deejay Downs. On the way back, I climbed Resevior Road to Box Baum Rd. The gravel is very loose on this road, making it difficult to gain any momentum on the way up.

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At the top, I took Box Baum to Academy Avenue and button hooked my way over to Peenpack Trail. Turning around again, I found my way onto Moranigan Trail, more singletrack with and few more rocks and roots, but very rideable. A right on Brant Path, an old Jeep trail, led me back to Box Baum and subsequently, back down Resevior Road. After climbing Skyline Path, I finished up by cruising down Skyline Drive to the parking lot.

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I see the potential to develop a good mixed ride of gravel, Jeep trail and singletrack. Can’t wait to put it all together.

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What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Hall and Oates – She’s Gone

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Gravel, dirt, grass and a little pave

About 6 years ago, I decided that a cyclocross bike was  my alternative fall rig. Not to race, but to get off the beaten path. I know, I sound like every bicycle company’s mantra for their new gravel, all road or adventure bike. Every one of them will have you believe they invented this gravel bike or this incredible genre of riding. Truth is, people have been riding gravel and dirt roads as long as people have been riding bicycles.

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Since then, I can’t seem to get enough gravel. As a matter of fact, I can’t seem to get enough of the Delaware State Forest. So much so, you must be sick of reading my posts that include this swath of woods. Anyway, I’m sorry, but today, I rode with Joe and Jason and found an entirely new trail that is as amazing as every road, ATV or snowmobile trail in the forest.

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We started at my abode and pedaled about a mile, before entering a deer trail that led us to Five Mile Meadow Road. Heading towards Silver Lake, we made a right on Ben Bush Trail and followed it to Standing Stone Trail. Cruising through the deer management area, we turned left on Silver Lake Road and decided to take the Burnt Mills Trail for about 3 miles and connected it with Flat Ridge Road.

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Just as Flat Ridge comes to an end, we moved back over to the Burnt Mills Trail to ride through the section that includes a lot of loose gravel and large pieces of rip rap. This ends in a huge gravel parking lot along Rt. 402. From there, we usually ride on 402 to Pine Flats Road. Today, we hung a left onto the Pine Flats Trail. The first quarter mile was being logged. The rest was like gliding over some kind of magical forest. Lush grass on top of a hard packed surface made for a really cool roller coaster ride that eventually came out at the bottom of Pine Flats Road.

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As it was 35-40 degrees most of the day, we decided to head back via Bushkill Falls Road to Flat Ridge Road and took Five Mile Meadow all the way to my community.

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No, I don’t walk on water. It just seems that way!

It always seems a little difficult when you encounter the first really cold ride of the new season. But, it gets easier each time you go out.

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – anything Marvin Gaye. C7463DA2-71A0-444D-9E6A-19E5F093A457

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Contest-2018

It’s that time of year again. Autumn brings beautiful colors to almost every region in the northeast. That’s why pictures in nature are so popular during fall foliage. Instagram, Facebook and other types of social media are a great source for sharing photos. I love seeing any nature shots, especially when a bicycle, the most simplistic mode of transportation, is featured.

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Cycling is a beautiful sport, we record our rides with Strava, Map My Ride and Ride with GPS. Most entries include a picture. A picture, because average speed, heart rate and elevation gain do not say enough about the ride and less about the experience.

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So, I want your photos. Send me a pic of your bike in nature, by Friday, November 16th at 5pm, for a chance to win a pair of Tifosi Tyrant 2.0/Carbon/Polarized Fototec sunglasses. Send photos to tdf911@ptd.net.

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If we get:

25 photos, we’ll have 2 winners

50 photos, 3 winners

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Can’t  wait to see your submissions!

 

 

 

Old Trail, New Wrinkle

On Saturday, Jason and I decided a full assault on the McDade Trail was in order. I’ve never before, ridden from one end to the other, without deviating from the trail, to avoid the steps and technical section between Milford and Dingmans.

At 55 degrees and sunny, the weather certainly cooperated. We began at the Hialeah Recreation Site, with the intention to ride all 32 miles to Milford Beach, turn around and ride back, without leaving the trail. At 9am, we departed, hitting all the hills south of Bushkill.

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10 miles in and we pedaled through the Bushkill Access. From there, the trail is flat and fast for 13 miles to Dingmans. Crossing Rt. 739, we hammered the short, steep gravel hills leading up to the Bald Eagle Nesting area, where the singletrack and hiking only sections begin. We were able to ride most of the singletrack, but had to hike a bike the staircases.

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The river, currently higher and wider than normal, was moving pretty quickly, creating a gorgeous green pool, just off the trail.

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We cruised past Raymondskill Road, through the corn fields, under the bridge and landed at Milford Beach.  Time constraints and sore legs, sent us back via the pavement. We crossed the bridge and took Old Mine Road to the Dingmans Bridge, shuffled across and landed on Rt. 209 for 12 miles. In Bushkill, we hopped back on the trail, just in time to climb every hill and roll into Hialeah at about 4pm.

I cant wait to make this trip again. Hitting all sections in one ride, we got to experience all the beauty that McDade has to offer.

What’s playing (what am I listening while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – The Alan Parsons Project – Eye in the Sky

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2018 Maple City Century

The previous 3 years, I traveled up to Honesdale, PA for the Maple City Century, an off road/gravel/adventure ride. This year, I was joined by Eric, Darrin, Joe and Andrew. If you haven’t heard about this incredible event or read one of my previous reviews, by the end of this post, you’ll be eager to take on the back roads of Wayne County, PA.

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Honesdale is the Maple City. However, this year’s start and finish, took place just outside of Honesdale at the Bluestone Bar and Grill on Rt. 191. With a plus size parking lot and clean bathrooms, the Bluestone was a perfect host. This year’s edition, offered a 62 mile(metric century) and the full 100 mile “shabang”. Doing the 100 the previous 3 years and finishing the last 2, we geared up for the metric and were not let down.

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First, it was 46 degrees at the start. Last year, 90 degrees and humid, made for a long day. This year, real autumn temperatures prevailed as it really made a difference.

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This is the one event I do each year that is completely grass roots. Zach and Stacey Wentzel are the faces at the sign in, they are there to give pre-ride instructions, they are all over the course, they are there at the finish and at the post ride party. Stacey even baked the incredible oatmeal raisin cookies found at the rest stops. Sure, other rides are bigger, but this is the what you’ve been waiting for.

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As far as the ride goes, if you want dirt, gravel, long climbs and the most beautiful scenery Northeastern Pennsylvania has to offer, then this is definitely the ride you’ve been waiting for. Loads of farms, stream crossings, waterfalls and even some singletrack is thrown in for good measure. And did I mention the hills? Yes, your climbing needs will be met!

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“a much needed rest”

The rest stops, as always we’re stocked with water, drink mix, cookies, trail mix, gels, fruit and sandwiches. The volunteers are second to none. They do not just serve you, they evaluate you as they are checking you in to see how your doing. 4CB320E3-DCE4-41BC-A8E2-B64FB89BCE2D

Starting at the Bluestone really made for a nice loop as riders were able to get right onto the back roads. I’ll say this, when you think it’s over, remember, there’s at least a few more climbs.

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Next September, alert your friends and come up to Honesdale and experience the ride you’ll never forget!

Dehydration

Dehydration is a deficit of total body water. It occurs when water loss exceeds water intake. It’s usually caused by exercise, illness, or immursion diuresis. For this post, we will concentrate on exercise and dehydration from sweating.

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Whenever your in a hot or humid climate and participating in exercise, dehydration is lurking just around the corner. Beware: losing 2% of your weight in fluid equates to a 25% loss in performance. And performance is only important when your health is not at risk.

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So, if your busy and forget to drink or just don’t feel thirsty during a long ride or run, you will not be able to replace the water you lose due to excessive sweating and heavy breathing. When your dehydrated, you may feel dizzy or disoriented. You may have muscle cramps or headaches. You could also experience rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, confusion, irritability, dark yellow urine, dry skin or fainting.

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What you need to do: First, drink a lot of water, every day! Then, drink 12 ounces of water 1 hour before exercise and 8 ounces, 15 minutes before exercise. During your ride, run, hike, paddle or whatever gets your heart rate up, drink 1 bottle (about 20-24 ounces) for every hour  of effort. In humid conditions, drink 1 & 1/2 bottles an hour. Add sports drink mix to every other bottle for efforts over an hour long.

What makes me such an expert. Experience. I’ve ended up getting carted to a hospital on 3 separate occasions in the last 14 years, due to severe dehydration. Each time, during humid weather, I simply did not drink enough before or during exercise. I felt weak and tried to push on. All big mistakes. The first two times, it took me a couple of weeks to recover. It happened again last weekend, Not because it was hot or humid, but because I did not drink enough and did not listen to my body. So drink, drink drink!

 

 

 

 

Van Dessel WTF 853Ltd: Reviewed

Eighteen months ago, I reviewed the Van Dessel WTF. In that post, I told you everything that this exceptional bike is capable of. Well I also explained how the bicycle industry continually evolves. End users and industry professionals provide valuable reviews to help consumers make smart choices.

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This year, I purchased a Van Dessel WTF 853Ltd. I wanted to put a considerable amount of mileage on this machine before giving you an educated opinion. So, after around 400 miles, my mouth is watering.

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First, there’s a noticeable difference. The 853Ltd loses the double top tube. I’m sure this, along with the Reynolds 853 tubing and full carbon fork, are what contribute to a 5 pound drop in weight.

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Taken from Van Dessel’s website: seamless air hardened heat-treated Reynolds 853 tube set provides more responsive handling and livelier acceleration without losing the charms that make the standard Whiskey  Tango  Foxtrot so beloved. It’s belt drive, single speed and IG hub compatible, accepts a Pressfit 30 bottom bracket and handles 29 X 2.25 tires.

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Seriously, I love my WTF. It’s a beast. I rode gravel, snow and winter pavement in comfort and style. The 853Ltd is all that and more. It accelerates like no other gravel/adventure bike I’ve ridden. It climbs well and handles the rough stuff with ease. My bike has seen only gravel and hard packed dirt roads so far with the occasional bit of singletrack.

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The 853Ltd is available as a frameset, with frame, fork, headset and seat clamp for $1,499. They offer 6 complete builds in either Shimano or SRAM with 1X and 2X drivetrains. The raw steel and pearlized orange are breathtaking!

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Now, I opted for a complete build, with SRAM Force shifters, derailleurs, carbon crankset and flat mount hydraulic disc brakes. I switched out the perfectly capable Mavic Aksium disc wheelset for a set of Bontrager Paradigm Elite disc wheels with WTB Nana 40 tires setup tubeless and the 1130 cassette for a 1150 (with HD hub). I added a Salsa Woodchipper bar and a Thomson seatpost and stem.

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Van Dessel, based in northern New Jersey has been crafting cyclocross, road, mtb and adventure bikes for many years. With the 853Ltd, the Country Bob and the A.D.D., they are sure to have the right bike for any of your adventures.

 

 

Pike County by Bicycle

Cycling Pike County can open many doors, create new experiences and set the table for a fitness lifestyle. Over the past century, bicycles have been used by children and adults as transportation, leisure and fitness. These days, riding a bicycle can take on many different forms. There is mountain biking, road racing, gravel riding, touring, bikepacking, BMX, cafe riding, commuting and just about anything you can imagine. CC255693-A747-4110-B3E7-33C4C79D22D2

Let’s start with one of the most family friendly places to ride, the McDade Trail. Starting at the Milford Beach Trailhead in Milford, this multi use trail stretches 32 miles to Hialeah Trailhead in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The trail surface is crushed stone and remains primarily flat for the first 21 miles, with a few small hills sprinkled in. After The Bushkill Boat Access, the trail climbs sharply into a few switchbacks before rolling on to Hialeah. During the summer months, the Pocono Pony, a free bus service, is available with bike racks going north and south at 7 locations along the trail. At many points, the trail runs along the Delaware River, traversing farms, pine forests, camp grounds and boat launches. Spotting a Bald Eagle, a Black Bear, White Tailed Deer and Wild Turkey is not uncommon.

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The McDade Trail

For mountain bikers that love being on singletrack, Promised  Land State Park has numerous multi use trails that range from beginner to expert with varying terrain. Just to the north of Pike County lies the Port Jervis, NY Watershed Trails. These multi use trails offer some of the best mountain biking in the northeast.

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Rt. 6 is on the Pennsylvania State bicycle route. With it’s wide shoulders, Rt. 6 offers road cyclists the opportunity to ride safely into and out of the wind. Winding through the Delaware State Forest and past Lake Wallenpaupack, Rt. 6 links with many bicycle friendly roadways, creating hundreds of different routes both epic and casual. You can even connect routes through neighboring New Jersey and New York for a tri state tour of the Delaware Valley.

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Next, the Delaware State Forest is filled with emergency access roads and snowmobile trails that allow a mountain bike or a “gravel bike” to glide over the gravel surface through protected natural areas and past glacial lakes. All sorts of wildlife and plants can be spotted in this scenic forest of more than 83 Acres. The Delaware State Forest has 29 campsites complete with pic nic tables and fire rings, making bikepacking (camping from a bicycle) a modest adventure.

 

If you are not into pedaling deep in the woods, then Maybe a casual ride around Milford, the county seat, would satisfy your urge to spin the pedals. The Borough of Milford is laid out with a grid of streets and alley ways that make riding in town a breeze. There are many cafes, eateries and historic place to visit by bicycle. From town, you could ride up to Grey Towers, the home of Gifford Pinchot, the first Director of the US Forest Service or pedal over to the columns museum for a look at the history of Pike County. Pedal over to Rt. 209 and hike up to the “Knob” for a wonderful view of Milford. Cruise down to Milford Beach for a dip in the Delaware River.

Wherever you bike, Pike County has trails and roads that make for a safe, enjoyable sport. Get outside and ride. You can see more from a bicycle that you can from a car and riding a bike is a healthy activity and a great release from everyday life. Hope to see you out there!

 

 

Solstice Campout

On Saturday, Steve, Jason, Darrin and I, ventured out on a bikepacking trip. June 23rd was the worldwide solstice bikepacking event and what better place to camp then the Delaware State Forest.

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We met up at the Rt. 739 parking area at 5pm and pedaled up Five Mile Meadow Road. A right on Ben Bush Trail to Standing Stone Trail brought us through the logging area and over to Silver Lake Road. A short climb and we hammered the 4 miles down Flat Ridge Road.

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We hooked up on the Burnt Mills snowmobile trail system over to Rt. 402 and dropped down to Pine Flats Road. About 2 miles in, there is a water source. This is convenient, because we were camping only about 2 miles further. We filled our bottles and headed to our campsite.

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I reserved the campsite from the PA DCNR. The Delaware State Forest has 29 designated campsites. Ours was perfect. With a stream running nearby, the campsite sat just off the gravel road.

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After setting up sleeping quarters and making a fire, it was time to prepare dinner. I opted for a quick dehydrated meal of Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, cooked expertly on a Jetboil stove.

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We relaxed with a few beers and enjoyed the incredible night afforded us by Mother Nature. The forecast called for a humid day followed by thunderstorms. What we got was a nice breezy day with perhaps a slight drizzle. Perfect weather for a loaded S24hour adventure.

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The next morning brought more beautiful weather. After breakfast, we packed up and retraced our route back to Silver Lake Road, where we turned right to take Five Mile Meadow all the way back.

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Sub 24hour adventures get you out in the woods without a big commitment. Give it try. Until then, check out more pics of our adventure.

 

 

 

Orange County Green

It looks like summer is here. You could not ask for better weather. Well, yesterday presented itself with a chance to take a cruise through some of western Orange Counties most beautiful roads.

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Bill mapped out a hilly course, as Eric and I sat on for what turned out to be a treat. We departed the shop at 7:30am and headed across the Milford bridge and into NJ. We stopped to chat with a gentleman that was pedaling his penny farthing from Maine to Key West. Slipping  down River Road into Port Jervis, NY, we crossed to Neversink Drive. Neversink climbs to Rt. 209. Making a right, we rode 3/4 of a mile and turned left on Peenpack Trail. This is where the real climbing started.

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Peenpack starts out at about 1% for a couple of miles then gradually gets steeper. Winding up and up, we capped the hill just as it dumped sharply for a fun descent to Rt. 42.

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We hung a left and cruised downhill, making a right on Wilson Road. The grade went skyward immediately as the road twisted through old world farm land, revealing views that were second to none. This time the road dumped down to Rt. 97, where a left hand turn took us to the base of the Hawk’s Nest. This incredible portion of roadway provides views of the Delaware River from high above as well as greenery as far as the eye can see.

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After a rip through the West End of Port Jervis, over the bridge and around Mountain Road, we finished up with a strong head wind all the way up Rt. 209 to the shop.

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After a short respite, Bill and I pedaled over to Skyline Drive for one more climb to cap the day. My legs were rubber at this point, so I slowly made my way up and around Milford Hills before descending back to town.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Billy Joel – Summer in Highland Falls

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Sunshine and Gravel

As spring comes to an end in a couple of weeks, we welcome summer with open arms. After riding through rain and cold for most of the spring, we were treated to a beautiful day.

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To test the early season legs, I hooked up with Eric, Andrew, Joe and Dave for a 50 mile gravel ride through the Delaware State Forest. At 61 degrees, it was just warm enough for short sleeves.

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We departed the Rt. 739 parking area and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road, over a recently resurfaced dirt and gravel roadway. After the Silver Lake climb, we dropped into Little Mud Pond and into the Burnt Mills snowmobile trails. We crossed over to Flat Ridge Road to Lake Minisink and back to Burnt Mills where we hit some rough Jeep Trail and rip rap.

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We regrouped in the Burnt Mills parking area and crossed over Rt. 402 to Pine Flats Road for an easy 2.5 mile descent.

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At the bottom, we hung a sharp right on Highline Road and began the 6 mile climb up to the base of the High Knob. Highline rolls gradually up to Hobaday Road, creating just enough fatigue to make you pull back a little before the big hill.

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We regrouped again at the gate and started up the High Knob Road. For about 1.5 miles, the road circles around the hill as it get steeper and steeper as you get closer to the top. The views were spectacular today. With no fog and plenty of sunshine, you could see forever.

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We had lunch, took a few photos and enjoyed the descent down High Knob and all the way down High Line to Pine Flats. It was just enough to recuperate before climbing back to Rt. 402. Through the rough section and up Flat Ridge to Silver Lake. We took Standing Stone Trail through the deer management area, back to Five Mile Meadow, over a few more hills and down to the parking lot.

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“Eric’s catch of the day”

This is one of my favorite rides. 50 Miles, 4000 feet of elevation, 95% on gravel. Joe and Dave are heading to Canada next week for a ride up the Novia Scotia coast. I hope we helped prepare them.

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I leave you with a few more shots of this fantastic ride.

 

 

 

Milford Gravel

Is it ever going to stop raining? After a snowy, cold winter, the spring has been equally as wet. Weather reports are even calling for flooding this weekend. Well, today offered a short respite with lots of sunshine.

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With the pavement still very wet, I opted for a tried and true gravel route, Heading out of Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford. After slithering through town, I hopped over to Milford Beach and jumped on the McDade Trail. The first 4 miles are so nice. That being said, it looks as though the Park Service has done everything to keep bicycles from going any further than Just past Raymondskill Road. This forces you to walk up to Rt. 209 and ride a few miles before crossing back onto the trail.

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I opted to turn onto Zimmerman Farm Road and ride the horseshoe back to Rt. 209 and go back into the 2nd section of the farm.

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This time, I was met with a few obstacles. Trees were down everywhere. I crawled under and over the trees and made my way to the farm houses. An orange construction fence blocked the road. I rode around and up to the barn for a photo.

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This little guy slid right under my bike

I never noticed a cool old gas pump at what must have been the garage.

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I pedaled out to Rt. 209 for 2 miles and back on the McDade Trail. I rode up to Tom’s creek, turned around and headed back towards Milford. After another stint on Rt. 209, I jumped back on McDade and cruised back to Milford. I really wish that trail was accessible by bike the whole way through.

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As I passed the icehouse, I turned on the gravel section that winds along the river to 3rd street and climbed back up into town.

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What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – The Doors – Roadhouse Blues

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Getting Ready – Swift Campout

Went out today to workout some Kinks. Pedaled out to Lake Minisink via Five Mile Meadow Road, Little Mud Pond and Flat Ridge Road. Just wanted to jump in the hammock, without mosquito enclosure or rain fly.

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Took a little nap, made some coffee and scouted out a new route around the lake. I’ll be venturing out on June 23rd to participate in the 2018 Swift Campout – Solstice Overnighter. You can check out the event at swiftcampout.com.

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I’ll post details later in the month. Mostly just a sub 24 hour overnighter. Probably 25-30 mile ride, a little dinner and campfire. Tent, maybe hammock, then a nice breakfast followed by a return ride of 25-30 miles.

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What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Yes – I’ve seen all good people

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Rasputitsa Gravel Race

This past weekend, Jason and I took the long drive up to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to sample the Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race, a 40 mile trek over some of the toughest roads the Green Mountains have to offer. With over 4500 feet of elevation gain, the course challenges the most adventurous of riders.

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The event was everything they said it would be and more.  Themed after David Bowie’s “We Could Be Hero’s”, it was a world class cycling event, complete with top notch pre and post ride festivities, including a Bowie cover band that was spot on!

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At 45 degrees and sunny, things seemed to be shaping up quite nicely. Starting at Burke Mountain in East Burke, the course dropped into town and after a couple of miles, made its way onto the hard-packed dirt roads.  The first 10 miles seemed to pass by extremely quick. I was starting to think, all the talk about muddy roads and snow covered trails was all hype.

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Then, came Cyberia (why it’s spelled this way, is another Rasputitsa mystery). As we were climbing up the mountain, a volunteer said there was a lot of snow on top. He wasn’t kidding. A half foot of snow turned the joy ride into a hike a bike. If you were able to ride through, you couldn’t, as riders hiked single file down the narrow trail for about 1.5 miles. As advertised, Rasputitsa (Russian for “the mud Season”, when roads become difficult to traverse) was starting to hurt. I don’t know who that young lady was that was giving free hugs at the end of Cyberia, but she certainly brought a smile to many tired souls.

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As soon as we were out of Cyberia, the bottom fell out as riders shot down the mountain. Jason got away from me rather quickly. His mtb skills were on full display, as was the case for most of the day. Wherever you were on the course, mountains were visible, near and far. The next 25 miles, were more of the same: Beautiful scenery, monster climbs, amazing volunteers and fantastic rest stops. Some might say the maple shots were the best or the Rasputitsa bottles and Clif bars came at a much needed time or the craft beer was cool, but, what did it for me was the little girl that handed me a donut as I chugged up that monster hill past the last rest stop. It believe she knew I was struggling.

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Coming down the back side, you could see the ski resort. All around me, grimaces turned to smiles, well for only a few minutes. That’s  when we turned left into what seemed like another Cyberia. I couldn’t help but think, why would they do this to me as I kept falling while trying to ride through. Coming out of it, snow became blacktop. Blacktop became snow and the finish line was in sight.

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What a great feeling as hundreds of finishers hung around to cheer on the riders coming in! We dropped our bikes at the car and joined in the celebration that is Rasputitsa. Tired and fulfilled, I will be back next year, I can’t wait!

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Just Pedaling

Occasionally you just go out for a pedal. By that, I mean, you scrap all plans and just pedal. I planned to do a long ride with lots of hills as kind of a last ditch prep for the Rasputitsa Gravel Race on April 21st in Vermont.

By late afternoon, when it appeared that the forecast of a warm day was not going to happen, I decided to enjoy an easy jaunt through the High Knob section of the Delaware State Forest.

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I met up with Mike at the Maple Run parking area on Rt. 402 and pedaled down Hobaday Road to Highline Road and past Pine Flats. We explored the Hay Road Extension (all gravel roads) until it abruptly came to an end at a gate with numerous no trespassing and keep out signs. That deep in the woods, that’s as far as I go.

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We turned around and headed back. Before we made the turn on Rt. 402, we decided to climb to the top of the High Knob. The loose gravel and muddy surface ascends as it winds around a large rock formation, providing incredible views this time of year, from the top. An easy descent and smooth cruise to the parking lot, capped a really nice ride. Turned out to be just what I needed. When Mother Nature throws you lemons, make lemonade!

45NRTH Wolvhammer – Reviewed

This may seem like an odd time to review a winter boot. It is, but after receiving them in February, I wanted to put in a fair amount of miles before deciding whether or not they become a staple in my winter riding gear.

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I’ve been wanting to find a way out of shoe covers. So, I purchased a pair of 45NRTH Wolvhammer winter boots in February. 45NRTH rates these boots at 0-25 degrees Fahrenheit. I think that is a fair statement. Usually I wear two pairs of wool socks, my shoes, toe covers and thermal shoe covers. A lot of prep just to have numb toes that hurt badly after an hour plus in 10 degree weather.

With one pair of socks, I set out on a 14 degree day on a February morning, fully expecting my big toes to experience the same old story. To my surprise, my feet stayed nice and warm for the entire ride. Styled like a mountaineering boot, the Wolvhammer has a full grain leather and ballistic nylon shell that provides a barrier that keeps your feet feeling rather cozy. The waterproof membrane keeps your feet dry.

I’ve worn these boots on my mid fat mtb as well as my gravel bike. They’ve performed well in the really cold stuff, but when Mother Nature treats us to a warm winter day, go back to your shoes. I have to say that the only drawback is that at upwards of 25 degrees and it feels like your wearing an oven.

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The soles are rugged and perfectly capable on those long winter hike a bike rides, snowshoeing or just a simple-stroll through the woods. Recessed cleat attachment is pretty much the norm for mtb shoes.

Putting them on and taking them off turned out to be a breeze. The laces pull tight with an internal cord lace that Velcro’s to the tongue. Then a heavy duty Velcro strap cinches the whole deal.

After 7 winter excursions, I can honestly say that the 45NRTH Wolvhammer boots will become part of my regular winter get up.

 

 

Gravel Season

Weather patterns have shifted the last few years. What this means long term, I’m not sure. What I do know is that in the northeast, we are able to ride our bikes much later into the year. Our winters have spilled into March and April, bringing us some late snowstorms and chilly spring weather.

However, this holiday weekend, was warm and for the most part, sunny. With a series of weird snowstorms coming up this week, putting in some quality miles was high on my list of priorities.

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Saturday was a group ride. I met up with Eric, Joe and Andrew at Action Bikes & Outdoor in Milford and set out on a mix of B roads, dirt roads and gravel. We slithered through Milford, dropped down past the Metz Icehouse, up to Rt. 209 and over the Milford Bridge. A bumpy ride down what Eric coined “Old Mine Field Road” (due to the many potholes) across Tuttles Corner and up the Peter’s Valley climb.

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The Dingman Bridge in the background

About a mile past Peter’s Valley Crafter’s Village, We veered left onto Brook Road, a dirt path that cuts right through the Walpack area. Brook Road becomes Mountain Road after going through a gate and over a small bridge.

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Midway down Mountain Road, the crown jewel of our ride appeared. Buttermilk Falls cascades almost 100 feet off the Kittatinny Ridge. With the Appalachian Trail passing across the top, it’s a popular destination for local hikers and sightseers.

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“One Lynskey takes a shower, another fights off a tree limb”

We pedaled back out to Haney’s Mill Road and hung a right on the Walpack Flatbrook Road for a climb to the top of the Walpack loop and dropped back down past the Walpack Inn. We took a quick breather at the Peter’s Valley store and continued back over the Peter’s Valley climb.

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Eric peeled off and over the Dingman Bridge as we cruised back along Old Mine Road and back to the shop. It was nice to finally get in an extended ride with good company.

Easter Sunday started out on the dreary side. Rain and snow flurries in the morning turned to sunshine in the afternoon. I went out for a jaunt through the Delaware State Forest. It seems the winter wreaked havoc on the roads, as potholes are everywhere and most of the gravel is off to the sides. Melting snow created a muddy surface that made pedaling feel like a leg workout. My bike and I were covered in mud. It was so much fun!

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How fast can you ride through?

Riding through puddles and creek crossings, turns a dirty ride clean, well, almost. The only way to get your bike dirty is to get out and ride. So what are you waiting for, put down the tablet, laptop or phone and pedal into the woods.

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding),  today – Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

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St. Patrick’s Alpine Pedal

As the trails are covered in snow and the roads are still full of salt, I opted to take the Kona Rove on a road ride. In about a month, I will be headed up to Vermont for the Rasputitsa gravel ride. It’s been tough to get many miles in this winter, so I decided that quality miles would be better than quantity today.

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I set out from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, and headed over to Milford Hills to climb Skyline Drive. The grade travels skyward for 650 feet in just over 2 miles. Above the tree line, the views of the Delaware Valley are spectacular.

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I navigated the 4 switchbacks as I descended back to town, and pedaled over to Greenwood Hills, another private community with very little traffic and alpine type hills. The road surface here is a mix of pavement and gravel. The grade is steep as you gain more than 400 feet of elevation in about 2 miles.

 

I dropped down again, and rode to Foster Hill (7th Street). The two and a half mile climb to the Malibu Dude Ranch takes every bit of energy I can muster this early in the year. At the top, I was greeted with gunshots from the nearby range, which sounded so close, that I took a quick photo by the lake and scrambled back down the hill.

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I recovered well on the descent and attempted to climb up Rt. 6. Well, that didn’t last long, as the wind felt like I was pedaling up and into a wall. Getting nowhere, I decided to call it a day and cruise back to Milford.

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“I wore a little green to honor my Irish friends”

Happy with a few thousand feet of elevation, I hope the 45 degree day is a sign of things to come. Lots of adventures planned for the spring and summer, I’ll detail a few gravel rides and bike packing trips in a future post.

 

Snowshoes, Ice & Darkness – 2018 Storms

This has surely been a week to forget. With about 2 feet of snow dumped on the area last Friday, most, including me, have been without power since.

In rural areas, power outages take on a whole different meaning. With the lack of central water and sewers, we rely on Well water and Septic. When there is no power, septic and water pumps do not operate. Internet went out with the power and cell service lasted 12 hours into the blackout.

Today, we were graced with another foot of snow. You simply have to make the best of it. I was lucky enough to get a little exercise, as I donned the snowshoes for a jaunt through the woods with my son.

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No pics of the damage (trees and wires down, cars crushed, homes destroyed). That’s for the news outlets. I just want to hammer home the notion that you have to be prepared. If you have the means, get a generator. Keep 20 gallons of gas on hand, safely away from the house. Store bottled water and canned food. Make sure you have matches and a good old fashioned hardwire telephone. Most times when power goes out, phone lines are in tact.

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A wood burning stove is a good idea. I was lucky enough to have a generator that powers my entire home and a wood burning stove with plenty of wood. I owe a huge thank you to a wonderful neighbor that trudged through the snow to turn on the generator for my wife while I was stuck on a closed road for 17 hours. What I lacked was gas. I searched every gas station in the area on Saturday and finally found enough to fill my containers.

This storm claimed many lives and many are still without power or running water. Please, if you know someone that is suffering because of this storm, reach out and help.

It’s no secret that weather patterns are changing. With that said, try to make the best of what Mother Nature serves up.

Delaware State Forest North

Although I’ve written about this beautiful swath of land in previous posts, I’ve decided to detail certain rides again in 2018 for new readers. With that said, I consider everything north and east of Rt. 402 to be the northern end of the forest.

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This morning, I decided to start at the parking area on Rt. 739. At 40 degrees and sunny, with a warmer outlook, I dressed down and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. From Rt. 739, the gravel surface climbs for about a mile and a half. I zipped through a mix of gravel and mud sections until I reached Bald Hill, one of many communities nestled in the forest. Your climbing needs will certainly be satisfied on Bald Hill as the gravel goes skyward for 1.25 miles, then drops down for 1.5 miles to the end. The hill seems steeper from the back end.

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I can’t get enough of this sign in front of one of the hunting cabins
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Logo that surrounds Bearded Bastards property

Turning left, back on Five Mile Meadow, I dropped down to Silver Lake Road, turned right and tackled the one paved hill I would see all day. I hung a right into Little Mud Pond, a lakeside community with well groomed gravel roads. A horseshoe that comes right back out, I followed Silver Lake for a mile to Standing Stone Trail.

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Little Mud Pond

Pedaling up Standing Stone offers a completely different view from the previous winter. Loggers took out a big portion of trees, changing the landscape along the right side of the road. The forest is dotted with hunting cabins, some merely shacks, but some have a real rustic appeal.

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After 2 miles, you drop into a creek crossing. It’s very rideable and a lot of fun with a little speed coming off the hill. At the end of Standing Stone, I turned right on Five Mile Meadow, rode up about 2 miles and made another right onto Ben Bush Road, a new road built by the loggers over an old snowmobile trail.

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Ben Bush Road loops back around to Standing Stone Trail. I guess I just wanted to rip through the creek one more time. A left on Five Mile Meadow and before I knew it, I was climbing back up for a mile plus, before descending back to the parking area.

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It warmed up to the mid 50’s by the time I finished, so I was glad I left the jacket in the car. Except for 1.75 miles of pavement on Silver Lake Road, the rest of this Ride was on gravel. Well, gravel and mud.

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In the end, my bike and I were extremely dirty, but our hearts were full.

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Kinks – Lola

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Slovang

The following is a guest spot from Brian with some gorgeous pics to help get us through the winter!

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Sometimes an offer is just too good to pass up.  So, when a local like-minded cycling/hiking/skiing/beer tasting friend tells me about this great blog he reads and there’s this contest to submit a bicycling photo and win a pair of Tifosi cycling glasses, I started looking through my photos.  Having nothing to lose, and a cool new pair of glasses to possibly gain, I started following the blog and entered Robert’s contest.  I won, and so thanks are in order to all of you who voted for my image of my bike leaning on a Bucks County covered bridge on a snowy day.  And, bigger thanks are in order to Robert for hosting the blog, and the contest.

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Summer, 2017….  A childhood friend of mine that I grew up with in southeastern PA is closing in on his 50th birthday at the end of January, 2018.  Jon moved to San Diego nearly 20 years ago because he “hates the cold”.  For fun, we’d been messaging back and forth about a bicycle vacation to Portland, OR, or some such location, but nothing ever gelled.  Then, out of the blue, he sends me an email and invites me to go on a cycling vacation with him to a warm destination and celebrate his milestone birthday with him.  Having visited him several times in San Diego in years past, it wasn’t hard for him to set the hook.  It is beautiful there, which is why so many cyclists choose to train there year round.  We quickly narrowed down our choices to somewhere in Arizona, or maybe try out an all-inclusive 4 day tour with Trek Travel in Solvang, CA.  Since it was his birthday, I let him choose and so we booked our 4 day Ride Camp with Trek Travel to Solvang for the end of January into the beginning of February, 2018.  We figured it would be nicer to just let someone else handle all the details and that way we’d end up spending less time fretting over minutia and more time having fun on 2 wheels.  Jon knows I ride all year in PA, as does he in San Diego and so we knew we’d be fit enough to put in some big mile days together this early in the year.
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 Some background on Solvang…it is a small city in the Santa Ynez Valley of California, known for its Danish style architecture.  The area outside of town is full of hills, vineyards, horse and cattle farms and agriculture.  It definitely has a tourism driven economy, and so it caters to showing out-of-towners a good time.  We stayed at the Hotel Corque, which was very comfortable for our time there.  There are tons of shops and restaurants, a totally awesome motorcycle museum, places to do wine tastings, and Firestone Walker Brewing is only 3 miles down the road in Buellton.  Yes, we went there.  Mmmmm, beer.  Since Trek Travel pretty much handles everything except your transportation to and from Solvang, we just had to drive up from San Diego after I arrived from frigid PA.  The package included lodging, nearly all food, bikes and helmets and a Garmin with all routes pre-loaded, two guide hosts to show you around and ride with you, and a Trek Travel support van to refuel from or drop clothes in as the day warmed up.  The riding was very enjoyable with high temp’s around 80* every day, along with mostly sunny skies.  It was a wonderful mid-winter reprieve for me to go someplace warm, be with my friend, meet some new folks and put in some miles.  We rode 4 consecutive days totaling about 165 miles and then said goodbye to our hosts and Solvang.  I booked a few extra days to spend back in San Diego with Jon and his family, and so a day later we put in a beautiful road ride through Rancho Santa Fe which included some coast time.  My friend Dawn, also formerly from PA drove from Upland, CA to come see me and joined us on the last ride.   A good week indeed, as Jon and I ended at just over 200 miles each.  I landed back in Philadelphia on the eve of the Super Bowl, and as I drove home to Upper Bucks County all I could think about was how much I wasn’t enjoying driving in the ice storm that fell that evening.  It was sunny and warm just a few hours earlier that same day…on the other coast.
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Feeling Spring

A couple of weeks ago, that dreaded groundhog saw his shadow. Whether that means six more weeks of winter or not, I truly do not know. What I do know is that these past few days have been warm, 50’s and 60’s. With a snow storm looming for Saturday night, the pressure was on to get a ride in.

Being sick since late January, has kept me off the bike. Feeling weak, with constant headaches and swollen legs, has kept me on the shelf and not thinking I could ride, until today. I peeled myself off the couch and ventured out for a short spin. I’m glad I did. With a 60 degree day, snow and ice disappeared and water was everywhere.

976F6BC2-F011-4229-A476-6CC207727830Streams and creeks appeared in culverts and roads. It was a lot of fun. The pace was slow, the bike got real dirty and my backside got wet. I hope this is a sign of things to come. I would like to stop talking about how cold it’s been and start detailing new rides and adventures.

Whats playing, (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Foreigner – Feels Like the First Time

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McDade Thaw

It’s been awhile. Although I have been riding, my tolerance for single digit pedaling has weened to about once a week. After a warm autumn, winter hit the tri-state area with temperatures hovering around 0 for nearly 3 1/2 weeks. The last week or so, it’s been getting warmer and with a 45 degree day, yesterday, it was game on for a rip down the McDade Trail.

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I met up with Eric at Dingman Falls. We jumped across Rt. 209 and headed south towards Bushkill. The recent rains and 2 days of thaw, melted just about every bit of snow and ice that’s covered the trail for the last month or so.

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However, the ice chunks that sit between the Delaware River and the McDade Trail, at the Bushkill Boat Access, was absolutely amazing.

After a strong ride to Bushkill, I bonked on the way back. Probably overdressed and under hydrated. No matter, it was still amazing to be able to get out there and turn the pedals for a couple of hours.

 

Winter Bike Washing

When temperatures reach the freezing levels, keeping your bike clean never seems to be easy. This winter in particular has presented riders with sub-zero tempts, throughout the northeast, midwest and abroad.

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In past years, I would fill my wife’s largest pot with water from the kitchen sink, drench my bike out on the driveway, soap it up, brush and rinse. With hose bibs shut off this time of year, we are left with few options to keep the road salt, mud, snow and ice off our steeds.

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Recently, a couple of local riders have brought their bikes inside and cleaned them in the shower, which I’m sure is probably very effective. However, I don’t think I’m the only one to say, that would not go over well in my house.

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Not a great idea!

Another option, which I’ve tried, is the self service car wash. Again, effective, but with two drawbacks. The high pressure hose, if not kept far from bike can damage paint and small parts as well as get into bottom bracket shells, head tubes and hubs. This can cause all sorts of issues that quite frankly, you want to avoid. Also, the hot water at the car wash freezes in colder temps before you can dry your bike off. You need to get at least the salt off your bike, what to do?

Through internet research and trial and error, I’ve found a better way. Not full Proof, but a cleaner, more precise method of cleaning your bike, far from a hose or electricity. Simply fill a 2 gallon pressurized sprayer with warm water, wet bike down, spray on some bike wash, I like Finish Line Super Bike Wash, scrub bike and rinse.

 

The pressure is not high enough to damage your bike, but effective enough to clean it off. You can do this in your garage, basement, driveway or before you leave the trail.

After you fully clean and dry off your bike, don’t forget to lube your chain. Liberally pour on chain lube as you back pedal and run through all your gears. Then, back pedal again, as you hold rag to bottom of chain to get the excess off. Give it a try, it has worked great for me!

 

2017 in Review

Year end posts should not be about what a remarkable year you had. Instead, they should celebrate all you’ve learned in the previous 12 months and how you can use that to be a better person and make a more positive impact. Taken from the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”, I like to remind myself and arrogantly others, “be the village”. You see, for years, I have thought of myself as  the village. Someone who is so above help that I pass judgement on those who seek out and accept help. In reality, I’ve just been fortunate in some areas of my life.

That said, Happy New Year!

2017 was a year of fantastic riding. We had our first hill climb challenge, road a lot of dirt and gravel and I really learned to appreciate any time I can be on a bike.

In 2018, we are going to put together Some cool new challenges to keep everyone riding strong. Another hill climb challenge, an off road challenge and maybe a 30 day mileage goal. While a challenge really keeps you motivated and pushes you to reach new heights, just riding your bike on most days is enough!

So, enjoy your day of rest today and get back on your bike soon!

I leave you with a pic of what hopefully your future rides do not look like or maybe they should!

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Again, Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Almost Winter

When the days are short and the nights are long, the weather dictates when and where your outdoor activities take place. Two days before winter starts, and the temperature jumped from below freezing to 51 degrees. Having had two snowfalls already, I was fully prepared to break out the snow shoes.

With Hanukkah over today and Christmas, Kwanza and Festivus right around the corner, family obligations and holiday preparations take center stage when not at work.

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But, since this is a cycling blog, you know I found a window to get outside and pedal. I attempted to roll into the Delaware State Forest, but with little sunshine in the woods, the roads were still pretty iced over. So, I simply hit every back road in my community that I could find.

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It looks like the weather will stay somewhat warm throughout the weekend.  Before winter prevails, I hope to get a few more rides in.  Mtb, gravel or road doesn’t matter. What bike I ride is of little importance. I simply enjoy being able to ride this late in the year. I hope you get to ride as well.

7 Days/7 Rides

Entertaining the notion that riding outdoors ends in the fall, is sort of giving in to Mother Nature. Well, that’s easy to say, when the temperatures in late November, early December are still in the 40’s. Anyway, I thought that it would be a good time to get in some road rides, mountain bike rides and gravel adventures.

I started on Tuesday with a commute to work. When I left my house, it was 19 degrees. I layered up and dealt with the wind. I was just happy to be on my bike.

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On Wednesday, I did a unique ride, mixing in some gravel, pavement, dirt and grass. It was 50 degrees and I took full advantage, riding in shorts and shortsleeves.  I rode up to Five Mile Meadow Road, grinded through the loose, new gravel until I heard the first gunshot. I thought I’d leave the hunters alone and head back into the community for an unauthorized spin through Seneca Lake Park.

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I had a few extra hours on Thursday morning, so I looped around my community on the road bike, hitting every hill I could find.

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On Friday, my son joined me for a mtb ride through the Watershed. Another 50 degree day, allowed us to dress down and enjoy a few hours of rocks, roots and beautiful singletrack.

Saturday morning brought some gravel grinding through the Delaware State Forest with Andrew. This time, I opted for a mostly orange getup. Action Bikes and Outdoor, produces an orange jersey each year, making it easy to get out in the wild, during hunting season.

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Andrew in Safety Orange & Hi-Viz Green

On Sunday evening, my son and I went back into the Delaware State Forest for a spin under the stars, powered by our Bontrager Ion 800 headlights. A full moon helped illuminate the woods. We took a couple of cool new roads that I’ll detail in a later post.

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Monday morning was cold. 20 degrees at 6:30am. I grabbed a quick ride on gravel, dirt and grass. The hill I’ve been practicing my grass descents on, was covered with a thin layer of frost, making for a few slippery ups and downs. Easy to deal with, when the fog is burning off the lake at the top of he hill.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), Today – The Greg Kihn Band – The Breakup Song (1981)

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Photo Contest – Finalists

The time has come; no more photos. After sifting through the thousands of submissions (that might be a bit of an exaggeration), we’ve narrowed it down to three finalists.

While all the pics are beautiful, only 3 can be finalists. Now, it’s your job to pick the winner. Please, help me select the winning photo by posting to comments and picking photo 1, 2 or 3.

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1. Snowy Covered Bridge submitted by Brian
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2. Riding Golden, Colorado submitted by Mike
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3. Autumn on the McDade submitted by Eric

Thank you for your votes! A winner will be picked on Friday, November 24th.

 

 

Photo Contest Update

Because I’m a boob, I have not figured out how to upload a photo in comments. So, since I can’t remember how I received photos last year, you can send any photo/submissions to tdf911@ptd.net. Sorry for the confusion, I’ll get it right by next year.

So, get outside and ride. Do not let the weather keep you from turning those pedals and take lots of pictures!

Photo Contest/ Tifosi Sunglasses Giveaway

It’s that time of year again. Riding Milford’s 2nd annual photo contest. To celebrate the two-year anniversary of the blog and to recognize how beautifully cycling and photography go hand in hand.

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You see, there are cyclists who ride to simply go fast, and while there is certainly a place for that, a lot of us are now simply riding for escape and adventure. We slow down to take in the sights, explore new paths and record our rides a different but not unique way, in photographs. We post them on social media for all the world to see. And for that we are lucky. Lucky to get a look at what someone else experienced. Lucky to reach out and let that person know how beautiful their ride was.

IMG_0620To enter the contest, comment to this post, with a photo of your bicycle in nature by 8:00pm on Sunday, December 19th. The winner will receive a pair of Tifosi Crit, Fototec sunglasses in Crystal Black (an $80 value).

If we receive 25 photos, there will be 2 winners!

If we receive 50 photos, there will be 3 winners!

Can’t wait to see your pics!!

Autumn in the Delaware Valley

Each year, it seems, we get treated to something different. This year, summer lasted until mid October. I’m not complaining. However, with Halloween just a few days away, we need more than just a few leaves to fall.

Most places are beautiful in the fall. Milford and the surrounding area benefit from sitting between the Catskills and Pocono Mountains and along the Delaware River, making for a gorgeous place to pedal.

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If you want to see for yourself, get out on the McDade Trail, ride through Peter’s Valley via Old Mine Road, climb up to High Point or traverse the many gravel roads that make up the State and National forests that encompass our region. If you ride a mountain bike or want to learn, look no further than the Port Jervis Watershed Trails. Fall can be seen here at its fullest, with vibrant colors reflecting off the 3 reservoirs, creating a magical atmosphere.

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Oh, and the trails are second to none. Visit Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford for large scale paper maps with color coded trails to guide you along. A ride up to the Hawk’s Nest on Rt. 97 provides breathtaking views of fall foliage along the river and Route 6 in Pike County has far from a shortage of colorful places to enjoy all that fall has to offer.

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After your ride, sample the many cafes and restraunts throughout the Delaware Valley. It’s a great way to cool down, reflect and replenish.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – American Girl

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The Great Allegheny Passage

Hi folks, this is guest blogger Mike. I’m a riding buddy of Rob’s and he asked me to share an experience my wife and I had last week riding the GAP. For those of you who live in Milford, PA, when someone refers to the “GAP” you know they are talking about the Delaware Water Gap. To those in southwestern PA, the GAP is the Great Allegheny Passage, a nearly 150 mile rail to trail biking and hiking route that retraces the former B+O Railroad line through the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, PA.

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The start in Cumberland, MD
The GAP today uses the series of tunnels, bridges and viaducts that were built in the early 1900’s to connect the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. A separate trail, the 185 mile long C+O Canal Trail, connects Washington D.C. to Cumberland, MD. The GAP trail fully opened in 2013 after years of work rebuilding the tunnels and bridges, and then paving the entire trail with crushed limestone. The last 15 miles of the trail into Pittsburgh are paved with asphalt. Logistically, the GAP is very easy to access and travel on. Each town that the trail passes through has parking and toilets for day riders. Some towns have water fountains available and
a few even have a small bike repair stand fully equipped with tools and tire pumps. Each mile of the trail is marked with a concrete post so you always know how far along you are. There are also dozens of campgrounds along the way for those who chose to camp vs. staying in hotels or Bed and Breakfast Inn’s. Many of the campgrounds are free for bikers and are even stocked with free firewood. The larger towns on the GAP have B+B’s that specifically cater to cyclist. There are also many outfitters that will plan your entire trip, complete with a guided support vehicle so all you need to do is pedal to the next destination. Amtrak also operates the “Capital” Line which has a train car with a bike storage room that stops in Pittsburgh, Connellsville, PA, and Cumberland to transport you and your bike before or after the ride.

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Crossing the Mason Dixon Line

My wife and I decided to try this ride the first week of October to take advantage of the fall foliage and the cooler riding temperatures. We started in Cumberland, which was about a 300 mile drive from Milford. There are a few hotels in Cumberland near the trailhead and they all cater to the cyclists. We were allowed to bring our bikes into our room. There is also free parking near the trailhead, under the interstate overpass, and it was a safe place to leave your car for a week. There is also a local bike shop only a few yards from the start just in case of any last minute adjustments or needed supplies. The National Park Service has an information
center at the trailhead with maps of the trail and brochures of each town along the way to Pittsburgh.
I planned our trip to ride a total of 4 days, with a day off in the middle. My wife is a novice rider and had never ridden further than 30 miles in one day. She had no problems conquering the GAP. The trail is nearly flat with the exception of the first 23 miles from Cumberland to the Eastern Continental Divide. The total climb to the Divide was 1800 feet with a nearly constant grade of only 1.6%. My wife handled the climb without any difficulty. The scenery was breathtaking and we stopped several times for photo ops. We stayed the first night in Myersdale, PA (32 miles). Our B+B was one block from the trail and had secure bike storage in the basement. We met several other riders during our stay and had fun exchanging stories.

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Myersdale, PA The second day was an equally scenic ride to Ohiopyle, PA (40 miles). We spent an extra day here to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” and also to do some hiking around the Youghiogheny River. Ohiopyle is also a great place to do some white water rafting on a day off. The 3rd day of riding followed the “Yough” to West Newton, PA (42 miles). The rain was off and on this day which made for a muddy ride, but the scenery was still amazing. My wife’s bike had
a minor mechanical issue we were able to get fixed in Connersville at a bike shop right on the trail.
The final day to Pittsburgh (35 miles) saw the trail change from a scenic ride in the woods to an urban feel the final 15 miles. Multiple bridges over the Monongahela River made for several more photo ops with the city of Pittsburgh in the background. Our son, who is a student at the University of Pittsburgh, joined us on his bike for the final 7 miles to Point State Park, where the GAP ends. This is where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join to form the Ohio River. After an evening in Pittsburgh, we rode the Amtrak “Capital” back to Cumberland to retrieve our car.
Overall we had an amazing experience on this ride and would definitely do it again. It is something that even a novice rider could do easily. Meeting other cyclists along the way was one of the highlights of the trip. As for the song that would best describe this journey…. it would have to be “She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes”!!! For more info on the GAP visit: http://www.GAPtrail.org

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Salisbury Viaduct near Myersdale, PA

Some more pics of this awesome ride!

 

Ride Your Bike

Autumn has decided to play hard to get. With the unseasonably warm weather hanging around, why not find time for extra miles? All I can think about is which bike to ride!

Our time is valuable. When you get a chance to get outdoors, make it count. Go out one day and just ride for hours. Ride as far as your legs will take you. Ride a road bike on a dirt road, a hybrid or cyclocross bike on a mountain bike trail or a Mtb on the street.

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Forget everything and just pedal. Take pictures, get a flat, change your tube, finish your ride. Get dirty out there. Ride through the mud, the rain, the snow, the wind or whatever Mother Nature has to throw at you!

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Stay up late and map out a ride or just read a shitty novel and wing it the next day. Either way, ride your bike. Ride to the cafe, the pizza parlor or the tavern. Fill up on whatever delights you, then ride some more. Get a headlight and ride at night.

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Every now and then, I’m off the bike for a few days to a week for whatever reason. The first ride back always feels like the best ride of the year. You get the idea, just get out there and pedal!

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Pretenders –  Middle of the Road

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2017 Maple City Century

Last year, I wrote in detail about what a wonderful event the Maple City Century turned out to be. Based in Honesdale, PA, the event offers rides of 30, 62 and 100 miles, all on gravel and dirt roads with a little pavement thrown in to connect the sections, What I didn’t tell you was that this grass-roots gravel ride, is a family run event. Zach Wentzel, the founder and director, operates with a tight knit and dedicated crew. He, his wife Stacy and his parents are intimately involved and it shows. All riders and staff are treated like first class passengers on their flight around Wayne County.

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Zach and Stacy personally sign everyone in at the registration table. After a pre-ride meeting, the 100 milers are sent off with a Police escort out of Honesdale and onto some of the nicest gravel roads in the northeast. An hour later, the 62 and 30 mile riders receive the same send off.

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This is my third year doing the 100 mile ride and I have seen the route, which is marked with clear color coded arrows for each distance, gets better each time. The aid stations are well stocked and staffed by the friendliest volunteers, who encourage the riders and supply them with a wide variety of fuel, ranging from water, Pb&j & Nutella, Gatorade, fruit, pickles, packaged energy bars, and homemade goodies in sandwich bags.

Zach took matters into his own hands, taking over photographer duties this year and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Stacey was everywhere on the course, making sure riders had a safe passage back to Honesdale.

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Riding with Eric and Darin proved to be the right call, as they motivated me to drink and waited at the top of the hills amid unseasonably hot temperatures. We hit Brown Trout Trail, a 5 mile section of rocks and roots, that as I explained last year, is anything but easy. However, the waterfall and creek crossing were rather dry, enabling you to ride right through it.

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After stopping as rest stop 2, you could really feel the heat and the hills. The cold Coca Cola and pickles helped me forget about the pain. Pedaling out, we hit a series of hills that seemed to go on forever, a tradition of sorts at Maple City; rest, then climb again. As we approached rest stop 3 at 75 miles, I saw the Action Bikes and Outdoor tent from around the corner and it was like I was wandering in the desert and found an oasis.

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Mike and John were awesome, they fed us everything we could eat and after packing up, they caught up and provided an escort complete with lights as we struggled through the last few hills in the dark. At the finish, Zach was there waiting to hand us our gold medals, the well earned traditional finisher’s MCC beer growlers. Which are happily filled at the post ride host, the Irving Cliff Brewery.

 

 

There are so many big endurance events out there and some claim to be grass roots, while they continue to grow and make registration a lottery.  The Maple City Century is truly a grass roots event that I hope grows, but feels more like a hometown ride that will be on my calendar for years to come, although the Metric Century might be next years best course of action for me.  Check out some more pics from this really cool event:

 

 

 

 

Tour de Force – Day 4

Let me start by saying that riding with and doing support for so many fantastic people for the last 16 years has been a blessing. At the banquet, the previous night, I was honored as the founder of the ride. I was given a plaque and a mtb wheel with a plaque on the inset, expertly fabricated by Eric Swanson of Adventure Cycling in Aurora, CO. I accept these, knowing that Mike and Mike have carried me for many years.

IMG_0512With that said, let’s get to the ride. We started from the Sheraton in Melville, NY and rode down Rt. 25 through urban Nassau County for 22 miles to the Floral Park Municipal Field, where lunch was served (The Nassau County Police Department expertly blocked all intersections to Floral Park). Seems like a short distance for lunch, but the rest of he day’s events were going to be slow as we were escorted as a group to the finish.

IMG_0507From Floral Park, the NYPD took over the escort and wow, were we treated like dignitaries. Eight motorcycles blocked every intersection, through Queens, over the 59th Street Bridge and into Manhattan. Then the challenging part came when the streets of lower Manhattan, so congested at 1:30pm on a Tuesday, were turned into the Tour de Force Expressway. Motorcycles roared, helicopters soared and every rider and support team member, were cheered on by the thousands watching and  patiently waiting to go about their day.

IMG_0524We paused briefly in front of the still boarded and fenced Ground Zero for a moment of silence. The Freedom Tower, although not a replacement for the Twin Towers, looked glorious in the September sky.

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Arriving at Wagner Park, in Battery Park, we were treated to numerous Mounted Poilce Officers, guarding the mezzanine aboard their loyal steeds.

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In the Hudson, just behind the park were the NYPD Harbour Patrol boats as Police helicopters hovered overhead. A welcome home for some,  a hero’s send off for others. You see, many of our riders and support team come from all over the country.

IMG_0525These were and are an amazing 4 days of cycling. We cannot forget the victims of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. You are all in our prayers. We cannot wait until next year when we welcome back all our riders that had to back out because of the recent storms. Your presence was sorely missed.

I leave you with some more photos of this incredible 4 day journey.

 

 

Tour de Force – Day 3

The day started with a ferry ride from New London, Ct to Orient Point, NY. After unloading bikes and some last minute prep, riders pedaled through the amazing Long Island wine country, with a first rest stop at the Greenport Harbour Brewing Company and although not recommended, I’m sure more than a few riders indulged.

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With about 65 miles left, the ride winded down Rt. 25 through some of the most beautiful fishing towns on the island. Lunch was served at Fink’s Farm in Calverton, NY by John Carro and owners, Dave and Michelle. who served up hero’s reminiscent of John’s former deli, the Steer Seller.

Every day’s ride on the Tour de Force ends with a story. Each rider finishes day 3 with a medal and the memories of a ride with friends and family that will last a lifetime. Two survivors, Mimi and Mikayla, were at the finish line, handing out medals.  At our banquet that night, we honored them, and recognized their truly beautiful efforts to pay it forward.

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You see, nine years ago, we made a donation to Mimi to honor her husband, Perth Amboy, NJ Police Officer Thomas Raji, who was killed in the line of duty. She was pregnant with Mikayla. A few months ago, while eating in a restaurant, Mikayla noticed a Police Officer eating alone. She struck up a conversation with him and asked her mom to pay for his dinner. Mimi did just that and asked the owner not to tell him. The Officer found out that Mimi and Mikayla paid for his dinner. He arranged for MiKayla to throw out the 1st pitch at a NY Yankee game. Seeing this, we knew that Mikayla had to be honored in front of our riders. Speaking with Mimi, she explained that we were the first organization to come to her aid and she purchased her husbands headstone with funds from our donation. This is truly a family that suffered a tradgedy, received a few random acts of kindness and paid it forward.

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Mikayla with her best friend Sydney

 

We had two more special guests. You can read about their amazing story on Facebook at the Tour de Force 911 Memorial Bike Ride page.

Some more photos from an incredible day of cycling:

 

 

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TDF day 2

Life is great on the Tour de Force. Let me explain: First, there is no better group of people than those that put others before themselves. Second, every TDF rider and Support team member, quickly become family. You can’t avoid it. Once you put on the TDF garb ( jersey), it just happens.

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Today, started in Warwick, RI and took us 75 miles through the heart of New England. Today was my day to ride. As I have explained before, the logistics just do not allow the organizers to get on a bike and forget absolutely everything else in our lives for four days. Days 2 and 3 allow riders to wear what ever jerseys they wish. Some form teams and represent with custom jersey designs. I choose to wear TDF jerseys from years past.

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Me, loving life!

The route carried riders through some as of the most gorgeous landscape that  New England has to offer. Narragansett and Watch Hill are two of the nicest beach front communities on the east coast.

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Fueling up!

All photos during the 4 day ride are taken by Diane, our photographer. She has made life easy for us. Diane always seems to be there to get the important shots. She uploads to Facebook on the tourdeforce 9/11 Memorial Ride page. The weather was pretty good today, minus the wind. All 247 riders made it safely to the finishing line.

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Tour de Force – Day 1

Last year, I had the pleasure to detail the events that led to the creation of the Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Ride, which raised money for first responders killed in the 9/11 attacks and ultimately led to raising money for the families of Police Officers killed in he line of duty, nationwide. IMG_6041

This year, the tour will go from Boston to NYC. This morning, it started at the Boston Marathon finish line in the city’s Copley Square district. After an expertly executed escort by the Boston Police Department’s Motorcycle unit, riders made their way to the Denham, MA American Legion for the first of 3 rest stops. From there, they were released at their own pace. Support vehicles made their way to the front, along the route and a trail vehicle followed the last rider.

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With near perfect weather, the day was something the riders would not soon forget. The miles clicked by rapidly as the terrain was as flat as any day pedaling out of Boston can be.

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Milford cyclists, Andrew and Joe pedaling out of rest stop 1

Most of the route went through urban areas, saving the beautiful scenery of New England for tomorrow and traveled through numerous traffic circles, eventually finishing in an undisclosed location, 60ish miles from the start.

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John and Gonzo Support Team veterans

All riders finished safely, with the help of our amazing support team. 42 men and women from around the country, filled coolers, setup rest stops, directed traffic, fixed flats and kept this ride moving forward for the 16th consecutive year.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I detail my one day on the bike through the incredible Rhode Island and Connecticut countryside.

 

 

 

 

 

Marking the Course

On Monday, Mike H. and I traveled to Boston to nail down a few last details, with a week to go before the Tour de Force. Last September, I detailed this 4 day journey that took us from Washington, DC to NYC.

Most of the logistics and planning are done from my home office here in Milford, giving me the notion that it’s ok to tell you all about it. This year’s ride will take 300 riders from Boston to NYC.

Although the event is completely supported, riders, at their own pace, follow the route, each day to the host hotel. With that in mind, as we left Boston on Tuesday, we drove the first two days of the route, painting arrows leading up to and through each turn.

This is one of the most important tasks when planning an organized group ride. It’s the best way to mark the course.  The paint adheres to the pavement and last for about 3 months. Most cyclists will see a painted arrow. Signs have a tendency to be removed or blow away in the wind. We pre-ride the course each morning to double check the arrows and repaint if necessary.

This is the 16th year that my brother Mike, my friend Mike and myself have organized this ride. I get just as excited leading up to the event as I did in 2002. You can check out our website at WWW.tourdeforceny.com. I will detail each days ride, starting on September 9th.

 

Buckhorn Fire Tower

Sometimes you learn a new route and fall in love. Matt told me about a ride he did with his dad last week. Being a mostly gravel route, I have to say it peaked my interest. Yesterday afternoon, I hooked up with Eric at Action Bikes and Outdoor to make a trip from the shop to the Buckhorn Fire Tower.

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We departed at 5pm, zig zagged out of town and climbed up Rt. 6 to Schocopee Road. Schocopee is a newly paved road that continues to go skyward, especially as you bear right onto Fire Tower Road, where he gravel starts.

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We took Fire Tower Road until it ended in a gravel parking lot. About a half mile before the lot is a left on Buckhorn Ridge Trail. A short trip on the trail and you’re at the Fire Tower. I’m not sure if this relic is still in use. It’s pretty wobbly and most of the nearby pine trees sit a bit higher than the tower, blocking views of he forest. From the looks of things, this was quite a party spot, some time ago.

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We descended back down to Schocopee Road, made a right and climbed up to Lily Pond. This section of Schocopee is gravel, pave, gravel, as it dips and rises through the forest, bringing you to a beautiful park. You could ride around the lake, although time did not allow it.

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We did a lot of climbing on our way up to the fire tower and again as we reached Lily pond, so you can imagine just how delightful the descent back to town was! We ripped down to Rt. 6 and cut through Old Owego Road as we snaked through town and back to the shop.

No music today, just some more pics of the his really pretty area.

 

When We Gravel, We Grind

With the Maple City Century quickly approaching, Eric, Darin and I took advantage of the unseasonably cool, late August weather and grinded out a 40ish mile gravel ride. Starting just after dawn gives you enough time to get miles in and still have most of the day with the family.

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We Pedaled out of Dingman Falls and over the Dingman Bridge. Needless to say, it was quite foggy. We climbed just above Peter’s Valley and dumped into the gravel section of Old Mine Road. Besides the many potholes and puddles, this a very fun section. Downhill on gravel for the better part of 6 miles, makes riding along the Delaware River a cool experience.

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We turned left on Pompey Road, climbed up, making a left into Ridge Road, a dirt trail littered with rocks and roots for the first mile. It then turns to high weeds on a broken up double track (leaving spools of grass in cassettes and around pedal spindles).

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Ridge Road comes out onto Thunder Mountain Road. The transition from overgrown forest to gravel road was sort of a relief. After 45 minutes, you realize you only went 3 miles. Bonus, the fog was burned off by the bright sun, one day before the solar eclipse. Thunder Mountain runs up to Kuhn Road and right through the heart of the Peter’s Valley School of Craft. We turned right on Kuhn and left on Walpack Road, over the hill and back over the Dingman Bridge.

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Back at the cars, we changed out our water bottles and headed down to the McDade trail for the 2nd part of the ride. About 2 miles in, a half eaten fish falls from the sky, or the trees. Darin spotted an Eagle that flew directly above us and over the river. Apparently, we interrupted the eagles’ breakfast.

We continued at a pace that was probably too fast for me, but I needed the punishment. We arrived at the Bushkill Boat Access and after a brief rest, turned around and rode a torrid pace back to our cars. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones enjoying this beautiful day. There seemed to be quite a few people hiking, bird watching and trail running.

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This is not the first time I’ve pedaled either of these routes, but I never put them together before and I’m glad we did. By he way, most photos while riding are taken by Eric, who always seems to have his phone on the ready!

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What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Jigsaw – (you’ve blown it all) Sky High IMG_0425

 

Bontrager Ion 800 RT – Reviewed

Having been caught out on the trail or the road, too many times after the sun has gone down, I’ve had to use a head light to find my way. My old light, while powerful, was wired to a battery pack, that was stashed under the stem. Bulky and cumbersome.

I recently acquired a Bontrager Ion 800 RT and put it to immediate use. I went out for an evening gravel ride from Milford, down the McDade Trail and up through both sections of Zimmerman Farm. I cruised down Rt. 209 and back on the McDade for a few miles before turning around and retracing the route. By time I hit Zimmerman Road, it was pretty dark. I clicked on the Ion 800 RT, and was surprised at how well it lit up he trail. I cruised Zimmerman, Rt. 209, McDade and back through town with complete confidence.

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The next day, I did a morning road ride and used the Ion 800 RT’s daytime flashing mode. This unique function can be seen from over 1.5 KM away. Critical when riding on busy streets. Let’s face it, most people text and drive. There are so many distractions to keep driver’s from seeing everything in the roadway. We wear helmets to protect our heads in the event of a crash, Why not give yourself the best chance to avoid that crash!

The following was taken from Trek’s website:

  • Transmitr remote displays battery status indicating when charge is needed
  • See with our focused optics and over 270 degrees of visibility
  • 800 Lumens via high-power CREE LED
  • 800LM-1.5hrs, 450LM-3hrs, 200LM-6hrs, night flash-20hrs, day flash 20hrs
  • Fully charges in 6 hours through sealed Micro USB port
  • Includes 20 degree +/- adjustable Sync bracket that fits bars from 22.2-35.0mm
  • Blendr compatible, secure bar mount available  14303_A_2_Ion_800_RT

The Ion 80 RT is a nice compliment to the Flare R tail light. Both have night time as well as day time modes. To boot, the Ion 800 RT weighs much less than most head lights. I am extremely pleased and will use daytime modes whenever I’m on a paved roadway.

 

Stewart State Forest

About a 40 minute drive from Milford, sits Stewart State Forest, known to many as the Stewart Buffer Land. Matt and I decided to make the trip east on Rt. 84 yesterday (with a pit stop at Arlene and Tom’s Restaurant in Port Jervis to fuel up) for what proved to be a really nice day out on the trails.

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There are a few designated parking areas. We decided to make Weed Road our base camp. We started out on the Orchard Trail and did not see a rock or root all the way to Giles Road. We jumped over to Rock Wall Trail and found out quickly how it got it’s name. In the first half mile, you traverse 4 rock walls, and yeah, the rocks and roots appeared.

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We followed Rock Wall to Mid Earth to New Road. We made a left on White Cloud Trail, climbed a few hundred feet and dropped back down through the wetlands and back up to Bypass Trail and over to Windsor Trail. Looping back to Weed Road we pedaled up the gravel hill and back to the parking area for lunch.

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After a couple of pb&j sandwiches, we headed back down Weed Road, hungry for more singletrack. We found a jewel! Causeway Trail to Shields Trail to Drakes Trail is like a deep forest pump track. Hoping over to Mid Earth, we crossed New Road and took Senior to Waterfall.

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Waterfall really tests you. It’s a little bit technical singletrack and a little bit hike a bike, up rock formations that appear like waterfalls. We followed Waterfall to Prime to Sara’s Way to Windsor Trail and back to New Road. New Road becomes Weed Road as we pedaled into the parking area. At a high of 74 degrees, we were treated to a beautiful day for what turned out to be a wonderful ride.

What’s  playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Santana – Evil Ways IMG_0405

 

 

Hill Challenge Update

July’s hill climbing challenge did just what it was designed to do, get you out there pedaling. Ok, we’ll get me out there pedaling. A couple other local riders nailed it as well. Congratulations go out to Bill and Eric. They will drink from their well earned Riding Milford/Action Bikes and Outdoor, ceramic coffee mugs. I will too, although I snatched my mug as soon as they arrived.

 

Just to show how a goal can push you, here are a few stats from the month of July that are attributable to the hill challenge:

Bill, finished the challenge in only 11 days.

The three riders that finished the challenge, logged a total of 1,266 miles and 88,562 feet of elevation.

Pretty good for a few middle aged  men!

Unfortunately, I’m going to suspend the challenge. I do not want anyone getting hurt while climbing up hills and hammering down the other side. We will think up another way to get you outside and on your bike, soon. Until then, ride on!

 

 

Cannondale Test Rides

On Tuesday, I traveled to Mountain Creek Park in Vernon, NJ, with Matt and Alec for the Cycling Sports Group Connection. It’s Cannondale’s debut of their 2018 models along with offerings and tech from Fabric, Sugoi and Sombrio. The event was open to dealers and industry professionals, nationwide.

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Test bikes, lingering in the morning fog

Cannondale really knocked it out of the park with presentations of their new lineup. They introduced the Evo, CAADX, SuperX, Touring, Trail, Trigger, Scalpel, Bad Habit, Cujo, Quick, Quick Neo and Moterra and very cool kids bikes. Emphasis was on the new Synapse and all the tech that went into designing the new crown jewel of their lineup. By design, they did a good job not explaining what the SE in some of their models names’ stands for.

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Fabric showed off all their new tools, pumps, lights and bottles. Their saddles were the main focus of the presentation. Sugoi and Sombrio showed off their new lines as well.

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The Cannondale Touring

Around 11:30am, we were invited into the showroom for a question and answer session in front of the entire lineup. After a terrific lunch, we headed outside for the grand prize! A chance to ride everything Cannondale brought. And oh, they brought just about every new model in a full run of sizes.

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First, we took the ski lift to the top and ripped down the other side of the mountain on the gravel road on 3 extremely smooth Slates. No full review on a bike I rode for only 6 miles, but, wow, you could ride this bike anywhere, over anything! A quick jaunt around town on the Synapse left us feeling good, but we were at Mountain Creek, time to ride some single track.

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Alec grabbed a Bad Habit, Matt took a Trigger and I hopped on a Scalpel. We picked a fairly easy trail and made our way down the mountain. I won’t name anyone here, but there was a crash, not by me as I exercised caution or fear, and burned off a good amount of brake pad. At the bottom, we were alerted that it was time to start bringing the bikes in, so we opted for one more ride up the mountain and dropped down again before retiring to the beer garden.

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As a part time bike shop employee, this is not the type of event I would normally get an invite to. So, I made the most of it and was in no hurry to leave. At 8:30pm, we drove back to Milford, fulfilled. I leave you with a few pics of this awesome event!

 

 

 

 

Geezer Ride

On Sunday, the old men set out at for what ended up being an 80 mile ride. Mike, Steve, Joe, Kevin and myself (maybe, not so old men) left Action Bikes and Outdoor at 6:25am, amidst the fog and humidity.

We pedaled down Rt 209/6, hung a left on Mountain Avenue and right at the river, crossed the Port Jervis Bridge and rode through the West End neighborhood on our way to Rt. 97. Turning right, we navigated early morning Port Jervis. A left hand turn on Rt. 6 put us on the first of many climbs for the day.

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Rt. 6, from Port Jervis to Greenville is a 3.5 mile climb that gently rolls uphill for about 3 miles, then gets steep for the last half mile. Going over the top, we continued on Rt. 6 and hung a right on Rt. 1, heading into Westtown then Pine Island, the famous “Black Dirt region”. The onion aroma was delightful!

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We cruised through to Warwick, NY. Warwick is a very Milford esq type of village, just a little larger.  On the outskirts, we found a gas station to refill supplies.

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We left Warwick and circled through Florida and Goshen before making our way past Soons Orchard and back to Rt. 6 and the rolling hills of Orange County. After fueling up at the Firehouse Deli in Greenville, we climbed up to the top of Rt. 6 (this time, from the back end) and were rewarded with a 3.5 mile descent! No matter how hilly a ride is, that drop always cures my aching legs. We traveled up River Road and crossed over the Milford Bridge for a quiet cool down through Milford.

By the way, the climb up Rt. 6 was the 7th hill this month for me in the climbing challenge. Just Guymard Turnpike, High Point and Sunrise Mountain to go. I’m told one rider finished all 10 hills in 11 days. Congrats, Bill!

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What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Monkees – Listen to the Band

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First Climb

One down, nine to go. The climbing challenge has begun! On Monday, Eric, Steve, Mike and myself, set out from Action Bikes and Outdoor at 8am to tackle any one of the 10 climbs. With High Point closed, due to New Jersey’s budget impasse that closed more than 50 state parks, historic sites and recreational areas, we settled on Greenville Turnpike.

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We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. At 64 degrees, the humidity was low as we pedaled out of the shop and headed for the Milford Bridge. Crossing the bridge, we climbed Deckertown Turnpike and hung a left on Clove Road for a roller coaster type ride all the way to Montague. A short descent on Rt. 23 and a right onto Greenville Turnpike had us out of the saddle and climbing for 2.5 miles. The graph below shows just how steep that hill can get.

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A left on Mountain Road for a scenic drop down to Rt. 6. The climb to the top of Rt. 6, although steep, is only a half mile and the next 3.5 miles are all downhill. The descent is fast and drops you right back to Rt. 23. A right hand turn puts you into Port Jervis with a lot of traffic for a short ride over to River Road.

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River Road connects back to the Milford Bridge through a few quiet neighborhoods and rolling farmland. An easy stroll over the bridge and back into Milford. I won’t bore you with stories on all 10 climbs, just wanted to let you know that the challenge is on!

 

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Foreigner – Cold as Ice

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The High Knob and Back

Another ride through the Delaware State Forest. It never gets old. It has a large network of gravel roads that throw everything at you from pea gravel to 4″ rip rap and everything in between.

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The weatherman got it right on Sunday. 70 degrees and sunny with no wind. An absolutely beautiful day. As you probably surmised, we took advantage of it by planning and executing an adventure that took us from Lord’s Valley to the High Knob.

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We met at the Rt 739 parking area at 6:30am, Joe, Alex, Jason, Jess, Mike, Eric, Anthony and yours truly. The initial push up Five Mile Meadow Road started with a 1.5 mile climb and took us all the way out to Silver Lake Road and up a steep hill, before turning into Little Mud Pond Rd. We came back out onto Silver Lake and onto Flat Ridge Road. At the end of Flat Ridge, we said goodbye to Joe and Alex as they turned back and headed for home to attend to a day at the pool with family.

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We pedaled up to Minisink Lake and ducked into the Burnt Mills Trail for a short stretch to the Burnt Mills parking lot. Coming out of the parking lot and out on Rt 402, we turned left on Pine Flats Road. We cruised down to the Bridge at the Beaver Run Hunt and Fish Club for a photo op, refueled and pedaled up to the fork where Hay Road leads to Highline Road and turns into Hobaday Road. For 8 miles, you climb from the fork to the High Knob.

We regrouped at the base and began our assault on the hill. The climb is about 2 miles of loose gravel and winds around the core of the hill, getting steeper towards the top. The High Knob if a good halfway point for any ride and a nice place for lunch. Most reached into their jersey pocket for a sandwich. Eric pulled out a BBQ chicken leg. Yes, you read that right. It seems that Eric enjoys good food, no matter what. I really wish I would have gotten a photo of that fine gourmet atop Pike County’s highest peak.

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Jess enjoys her victory at the peak

The descent was fast and fun. That continued as most of the way back on the Hobaday, Highline, Hay Road link is downhill. After retracing Pine Flats Road, we turned right on Rt. 402 and a left onto Bushkill Falls Road and rode back to Flat Ridge. We dropped back onto Silver Lake Road and hung a right onto Standing Stone Trail. We ripped through the deer management area and back out on Five Mile Meadow Road. After a few more short hills and nice descent to the parking area, we were loading our bikes on our cars by just a few minutes after noon. Here’s a few more pics of this awesome ride:

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Billy Joel – Modern Woman

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Tri State Cup of Joe

What better way to get people riding more, than a climbing challenge! Now that summer is right around the corner, ridingmilford.com along with Action Bikes & Outdoor are challenging you to get outside and ride your bike skyward to the top of some of the area’s most iconic climbs. Complete the challenge and get this ultra cool coffee mug:

Here’s how the challenge will work. Go to http://www.strava.com/clubs/ridingmilfordclimbingchallenge, join and ride to the top of the following hills:

High Point (to monument) (NJ)

Point Peter (NY)

Cummins Hill (PA)

Sunrise Mountain (NJ)

Skyline Drive (off Old Milford Rd) (PA)

Rt. 6 (Port Jervis to Greenville) (NY)

Foster Hill (7th St. to Malibu Dude Ranch) (PA)

Guymard Turnpike (NY)

Greenville Turnpike (NY)

Rt. 6 (Milford to Frenchtown Rd.) (PA)

Complete all climbs in any one calendar month.

Each ride must consist of at least 25 miles.

You may do as many climbs in one day as you like by adding 10 miles for each climb (1 climb  = 25 miles, 2 climbs = 35 miles, 3 climbs = 45 miles etc…).

Do all 10 climbs in one Ride of at least 100 miles and qualify.

Remember, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.

We will run this challenge July through December, 2017.

Now get out and ride!!🚴🚴‍♀️

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passion for Pedaling

Everything is green, rivers and creeks are flowing and flowers are blooming. When pedaling in the late spring or early summer, everything seems right in the world.

I keep a bike in the car, on the off chance that I’ll get that unexpected ride in. Yesterday presented me with just that opportunity. Eric inquired about the possibility of a 5pm road ride from Dingmans Falls. Finally being able to get out of work on time, I jumped at it. We met up at the parking lot at the top of Johnny Bee Road at the base of the falls.

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The weather was perfect, 79 degrees with a slight breeze. We rode out and over the Dingman Bridge. Over the Old Mine Road/Peter’s Valley climb, Eric decided a no hands descent was in order. We pedaled through the Walpack area and into the Walpack loop. Spinning around, we jetted back through Peter’s Valley Craft Center, and headed over to Layton for an alternate climb and a speedy descent back to the Dingman Bridge. When we got back to the parking lot, we decided to ride the wooden path and Check out both sets of falls. Here’s some pics of these incredible, natural works of art:

Milford to Shawnee: The McDade Experience

Well, it finally happened. I wrote about an upcoming ride and it went off without a hitch! The Weather forecast was bleak at best. Rain and cold all day. Everyone showed up enthusiastic and ready for the rain. But, as luck would have it, we were spared for most of the day, save for a little drizzle the last 12 miles.

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We departed Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 8:30am, pedaled down to The Delaware River and hoped on the McDade Trail. The first 5 miles clicked by rather quickly. At Raymondskill Road, we opted to ride on Rt. 209 and veered in and out of both sections of Zimmerman Farm. We re-entered the McDade Trail at Dingman’s Falls and stayed on gravel for the next 23 miles. 6 or 7 miles in, Jess got her first flat of the day. The tube change made for a needed rest.

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We continued on towards Bushkill, when just before the boat launch, Eric had a nice liquid surprise waiting for us. After a few minutes, we pushed off (Jess caught her second flat here) and hit the Bushkill hills. Just past the boat launch, the trail becomes narrow and hilly. Not hike a bike stuff, but enough to get your attention.

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It started to rain a little and got cool fast. We picked up the pace a bit in an attempt to out run the rain. It never came down that hard. Hitting the parking area at Hialeah Trailhead, we jumped on River Road and made our way to the Gem and Keystone Brew Pub for a delicious lunch.

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The McDade Trail winds through nature, in the form of corn fields, the Delaware River, pine forests and thick brush, all within a few hundred feet of Rt. 209. We were lucky that the heavy rain held out until after the ride. When we arrived, we were greeted by our families, had a few beers, laughed and enjoyed the rest of the day.

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Steve, TC, Joe, Jason, Eric, Rob, Jess, Mike, Kyle and Bill at the finish

Some pics of the day:

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Electric Light Orchestra – Strange Magic

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McDade Trail Adventure Ride

On Sunday, June 4th, a group will be leaving Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford and ride to Milford Beach, where we will enter the McDade Trail and pedal 30-35 miles south to the Hialeah trailhead. We will come off the trail briefly to cover both sections of Zimmerman Farm.

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Depending on the weather, it should be a fun ride at an intermediate pace. Adventure bikes (cyclocross, gravel, etc…) and mountain bikes are ideal for this type of surface.

We are meeting at the shop at 7:30am for an 8am rollout. The plan is to reach the end of the trail by noon and have lunch at one of the 2 Brew Pubs in the Shawnee area. You can either have a ride pick you up and/or have lunch with the group or take the Pocono Pony bus back to the shop. The Pocono Pony is a bus service that has a line that runs on the weekends along the Delaware River. A one way fare is $1.50. This includes transportation for you and your bike. Each bus has bike and boat racks, making it a convenient method of transportation to and from all your Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area adventures. You can check the schedule at http://www.mcta.com, click route and select the DEWA Park route.

You’ll need funds for lunch, extra tube, helmet and a lot of enthusiasm. Hope to see you there.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Elvis Costello – Watching the Detectives

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Back in the Saddle Again

It’s been a while since my last post. This was supposed to be about my experience at the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel race. Unfortunately, life got in the way. I’ve done a couple of rides the past few weeks, however, nothing of any length or significance.

On Tuesday evening, I was just looking to clear my head, so I pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed out to Milford Beach, via the gravel section, below 3rd street, along the river. Once at the beach, I jumped onto the McDade Trail. The first 3-4 miles on the trail are so serene and peaceful. Easy rolling, gravel terrain tucked away in the woods with the Delaware River gracefully flowing along to the left.IMG_5148

I rode past Raymondskill Road and through the single track, to the steps (where the bridge washed out). I shouldered my bike and hiked up to Rt. 209. A half mile on 209 and into the first section of Zimmerman Farm. After cresting the hill, you stay left at the fork, avoiding the Conashaugh horse trails. Another mile and back on Rt. 209 for a 1/4 mile and back into Zimmerman Farm. This section climbs a bit and drops sharply down to the farm. Riding by the dilapidated structures and past Marie Zimmerman’s home, I sped down the dirt road that leads back to the pave.  I took Rt. 209 to Dingmans Ferry and hopped back on the McDade Trail to The Dingmans Campground General Store.IMG_5149

I used the General Store as my turn around and took the McDade Trail back to Dingmans Falls and onto Rt. 209 (out and backs are soooo boring). Jumping back on the McDade Trail to Milford Beach, I past a few couples riding along slowly taking in all that this beautiful stretch of land has to offer.

Back at the shop, just before dark, I realized that I am lucky to be able to get on the bike and pedal, whenever time allows.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Eddie Rabbitt – I Love a Rainy Night

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Lu Lack Wyco Hundo Prep

On Sunday, I’ll be saddling up for my first long gravel ride in 2017. The Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo is an all road (gravel, dirt and pave) adventure in Northeastern PA. They offer 50, 75 and 100 mile routes. I’m all in for the 100.

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Image taken from llwh website

Registration opened on January 1st at 12:01am and filled up in a few hours for this 5th annual ride. While others were waiting for the ball to drop, I was patiently waiting at my laptop for the clock to strike midnight, to see if I’d get in.

Honestly, I knew that it would be tough to get in enough miles this time of year to properly train for what’s billed as a grueling ride. What I did not realize was that my longest ride would be 45 miles a couple of weeks before. I’m trying to make up for lost training with good nutrition. I’m a vegetarian who also enjoys some baked goods. I’ve been eating as clean as possible the last few weeks and adding some stretching and yoga and trying to get in some extra sleep.

I hope to have lots of cool photos and a great story for the blog…..

See you next week!

 

 

Delaware State Forest Gravel Grinding

On Sunday, we were treated to a beautiful spring day. High 60’s and sunny. After a monumental thaw, followed by 3 days of torrential rains, spring is finally here and it couldn’t be better.

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Wanting to get a longer ride in with a couple of weeks to go before the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel ride, I met up with Mike at the Rt. 739 parking area and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. The roadway was filled with potholes, but dry for most of the way (the state normally lays a fresh layer of gravel across the road in late September). We turned right on Silver Lake Road, climbed the chopped up asphalt and slipped into Little Mud Pond Road, where we picked up Eric, to join us in this gravel adventure.